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On cultural adjustment…(Ann S.)

Friday, February 2nd, 2007 @ 5:38 pm
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Posted in  Data Collection

I had email exchange today with a colleague and fellow researcher (A.S.) who has been living and practising as a therapist in Belgium for a few years now (she moved there from the UK due to her husband’s career). When talking about her feelings/experience around living in a host culture, she mentioned the following factors that helped her, in terms of managing the ‘cultural shock’ both externally and internally. She wrote:

“I wonder whether some of my survival of the culture shock was at least partly due to the fact that I was not on my own… 3 other family mambers helped me stay grounded.Also I am in a great crowd of ‘culture shock victims’ here. I am not the stranger in a host country, but one of many strangers. I never feel’I am the only one!’I also live mostly in an international culture within the belgian culture. That after 16 years is somewhat of a mystery”

This is so different to my own experience, which explains some of my intense struggle (I have been in the UK on my own, with no family members, my original culture is broadly mono-cultural and not international as such, i often feel I am the only one experiencing the cultural shock etc).

When talking to another colleague at the BACP Forum yesterday who has also moved across cultures, she also mentioned that she managed to feel ‘at-home’ in some place only when she established her own family unit and put some roots down through settling with her career. Greece is not providing a very ‘fertile’ environment for all this, due to the huge unemployment wave and the ‘messy’ system in general…no wonder all those factors affect me in terms of sense of identity…

Maybe sharing the experience with others helps at some point, it is interesting to listen to people’s ‘stories’ around such experiencing…back to ‘narrative inquiry’ again

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