Culture Shock: The Reverse Kind
For those of you who don’t know, I chose to spend my Junior year abroad. I returned from Angers, France February 3, and will be leaving for Santiago, Chile February 23. This left me exactly 20 days in between my trips to unpack, get a visa, repack, adjust to the time difference, and spend time with my friends and family. It’s been quite an adventure.
My first order of business was to get my Chilean visa. Each consulate functions differently, and while the French consulate let me pick my visa appointment time, the Chilean consulate assigns times. My first appointment was scheduled for January 10, while I was still in France. The next was scheduled for February 4 at 9:30 AM. While this was plausible, driving to Chicago immediately after arriving in Indianapolis or waking up at 5 AM to go to Chicago on the 4 did not appeal to me. (Although I did learn that with my jetlag, 5 AM wouldn’t have been a problem). Luckily, I was able to reschedule one more time for the 5th. My jetlagged trip to Chicago isn’t necessarily something I want to try to remember, but the visa appointment was super easy, and I was able to cross one of the biggest things off of my to-do list!
Jetlag was another adventure in and of itself. Chile is 2 hours behind Indiana, while France is 6 hours behind. Theoretically, I should adjust much better to Chile than I managed to to France. My first day in the US, I woke up at 3, fell asleep until 4, gave up and started my day. I was asleep by 7:30 PM Chicago time (8:30 in Indianapolis) that night. Each day, I managed to sleep another hour, and set goals for how late I had to stay up. My first workout was pathetic. I ran two miles on a treadmill, barely managed to bike for 15 min. and then fell asleep doing abs. It’s gotten much better since.
Aside from jetlag, I’ve managed to settle back into life in America relatively well. I’ve been spending my time preparing to leave and with my friends and family and feel almost no culture shock. The most poignant moment has been my refusal to go into any public place in workout clothes. That’s a definite change.
Someone asked me the other day if my head was wrapped around the idea that I’m leaving again. I don’t really think it is. I just got home, don’t really know what to expect, and to top it off, I REALLY can’t stand the thought of getting on another airplane. However, I’m super excited to see what Chile has in store for me! I was just in another developed Western culture, and have settled back into our developed Western culture extremely well. I’m about to leave my comfort zone for one of the most developed South American countries, which is still significantly behind by our standards. I know significantly less about this culture than I do about Europe, and think it will push me to expand my horizons and see the world in a different way. I’m excited to see what new things I will learn and see, and what similarities I will also find in Chile.
I hope to maintain a vegetarian lifestyle while I’m there, which I’ve been told is nearly impossible. I’m determined!
I’m excited, nervous, and can’t really believe this is about to happen!
More to come!