Eliminating culture shock, I believe is virtually impossible. However, knowledge is power and learning as much as one can on what to expect can certainly lessen the blow.
When I was in my early 30s with three little kids, we embarked on our first overseas adventure – to Lanzarote, Canary Islands, Spain for 5 months and Surrey, England for the other 5. Ten months wasn’t that long of a trip but I spent most of it very depressed. There just wasn’t enough to read in the early 90s about what to expect as an expat – and honestly, who has a lot of time to read with 3 little kids? I was a lot more insecure and self-conscious then than I am now. I was afraid to put myself out there. We had a few play date friends, but much of the time I felt very isolated, and I admit that was mostly my own doing.
Why will this trip be different?
1. This somewhat introverted gal is determined to pick herself up by her bootstraps and socialize.
2. Research, research, research. – Stop wishing things were more like Home. It will never be the old Home. It can be the new Home.
3. This is the exciting part – this will be the time in my 50+ life that I will be able to really afford the time and expense to work on self-improvement. I will not be working. I will be living in a very small apartment compared to what I’m used to – so I will need to fill my time with worthwhile and worthy occupation. I’m looking forward to finding some volunteer work, or having time to quilt again, or actually cooking from scratch instead of semi-homemade 🙂 . I’m looking forward to learning about another culture previously unknown to me. I’m going to finish college online. I’m going to skype with my parents and the kiddos back home regularly – thankfully the world is smaller with the internet.
I am already gleaning information from the internet, and two very useful websites are AbuDhabiWoman and ExpatWoman. I’ve been perusing their discussion boards and find them very helpful.
I’m not going to kid myself and think that dark days won’t come when I ask myself “Why did we come here?!?”, but I’m also giving myself the tools to make the most of this adventure.