Culture Shock… a confusing phenomenon

It’s  09:47 on a Monday morning and I’m sitting in the McDonald’s across the street from my flat. I’ve been here for an hour. If you know me at all, you know this is early. I’m on my 2nd coffee in the past hour and ate some strange breakfast quesadilla. Let’s be clear…I loathe McDonald’s. The only reason I went there in the states was for an occasional fountain soda or an intoxicated 4th meal. Yet here I am at McDonald’s because I have no wifi in my apartment. Actually this is like my 3rd time this week …

Why am I hear this early is the question. Well, I was supposed to get wifi in my flat today. Last week I called and emailed the housing office so they could come unlock the wifi box. Today I woke up early to call them and they said this was not possible and I should have emailed a week ago. Well, I did email and call but I guess they don’t read their emails. Yes…please have pity on me because I can’t get wifi 🙂 So the failed wifi attempt has led me to continuing my morning at McDonald’s doing internet related things.

Anyways, I also just read an article about culture shock. I won’t repeat it all, you can find it HERE. He talks about how often times we don’t recognize culture shock and can be mistaken for depression or feeling lethargic. Ahhhhh it all makes sense now 🙂 I really liked how he stated it wasn’t in the little things like food or weather that are shocking. It’s more the massive amounts of protocol and paperwork. Or maybe the need for millions of kebab shops. It’s not that these things are bad, they’re just different.

People often ask me how different Berlin is from the States. Sometimes I struggle answering because I think there are many similarities. But it’s mornings like today that I realize I’m in a different country (even though I’m sitting in a global empire, McD’s), dealing with different systems and processes. It’s really important to accept that things are different and that’s OK. I like different things, but it can also take time (years) to figure out. Yes, I will figure out this silly wifi issue and I’ll think I conquered the system. Eventually though something else will pop up. I guess that’s what you sign up for when you choose to live abroad.

The moral to the story is I do need to learn so more German, that would help a lot. But it’s also important to remember that learning the language or attempting to understand cultural norms is a process. Especially considering I want to keep my own culture intact. Mixing cultures can be and is challenging, but it leads to so many new perspectives.

So, yes indeed I do have constant culture shock while living over here. But often I don’t realize it’s happening until all the little things pile up. I think my new goal will be to identify those little things and accept the differences and attempt to figure it out.

Happy Monday!! Here’s a nice little picture and reminder of the randomness I love about Berlin – “I love Berlin and Grandma’s potato salad!”





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