Sunday, March 24, 2013

Entering the age of friends and sleepovers

Over the past few months we have been blessed to get to know a few more families who have kids the age of our girls. Awhile back I started doing English Playdate with one of my students children. They have been close aquantainces for over a year but thanks to these classes are even closer now. Then another student who actually works with me in the hospital started bringing her kids to the play date. And our pastor has three little girls who are the same age as my youngest two.

This has been a whole new experience for me as a mommy.

I always loved having a ton of kids around all the time growing up and knew someday I wanted to give my girls the same experience. I have three sisters and one brother and we basically all were allowed to invite a friend or two over on the weekends. You can only imagine our house when we all did, and it did happen. Last weekend we got our first taste of having friends over who had kids and it was a blast. They have three boys, 13, 6, and 2. Seriously the cutest little boys ever and really good kids as well. We put our brand new kiddy pool up on the roof (any of you not from Mexico roofs here are just flat and most of them have barriers or walls so you cant fall off). Us parents grilled, drank a few beers and just hung out while the kids had a blast in the pool. Then this weekend we baby sat for the couple that has three little girls (4yr old, and twins that are 2). They stayed the night and it was so fun to watch them all play. They did great and Issac and I were not as wore out as everyone expected. Actually it didnt seem like that much more work. Thankfully my hubby is an awesome papi and helped me out a lot, I was far from alone with the six kids. And now next weekend my girls are going to stay the night with the other couple who has an 7 yr old girl and a 6 year old boy. Seems to me that we have entered into a new phase of parenting. I mean my girls have stayed whole weeks with grandma, nights with our good friends but they are like an Aunt and Uncle to them, and even once with the same friends where they are going next weekend, but still I feel like this is going to be happening more often. Im actually good with it as long as my husband keeps up the awesomeness that is him. We actually make a great team and I love when that is put to work. Plus this means sending our kids for sleepovers and rest time or date night for us.

Funny thing is I feel like all this is so "normal." Why is that funny you might ask. Well even after five years and feeling that I have reached the "official acceptance phase." of my so called culture shock, I still have my moments. Just last week I drove home crying over the fact that a coworker basically had to slap me in the face to get me to accept something that is just so deep in the culture here that its not changing tomorrow or in the next few years for that matter. (the coworker was being helpful but it was a hard blow for me.) Anyway the point is after going through those random reminders that I'm not where I grew up and that things and people are way different here, its nice to be reminded that some things are still "normal."

Three cheers from good friends, spring, and changes.

How about any of you parents out there, do you agree that this is sort of a new phase in our lives as parents. I think another point to add is that the baby is now potty trained so life is already a lot different and smother. Hope to hear from you, I am really trying to do better on my blogging and now that I gave up a lot of my teaching hours to my hubby I will be able to do just that. So those who were dedicated followers before I hope I didn't lose you and those who are new please stay tuned.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

A fish out of water

So I was recently teaching one of my English students and we are doing a lesson called fish out of water. She read an article to me out loud and then we discussed it. She then asked me about my experience moving to Mexico. It was the first time in a while that I had thought about it. The article talks about phases. I wanted to post the article and say thanks to all you bloggers out there who were there for me during the regression stage. My student asked if I cried a lot during that stage and I said yes, but I also laughed a lot to. I was still happy to be here with my husband and my friends online were an excellent outlet  I especially want to thank Leslie from You helped me move from the regression to acceptance phase. Thank you for helping me see the light and helping me to see the good in Mexico and remember that everything back home wasn't perfect.  Here is the article its actually quiet interesting, I would love to hear some of your experiences in the different phases. I can say Im a citizen of the world. (yes I know that sounds cheesy but after reading the article you'll get it. lol)

Culture Shock: A Fish Out Of Water by Duncan Mason

1. Kalvero Oberg was one of the first writers to identify five distinct stages of culture shock. He found that all human beings experience the same feelings when they travel to or live in a different country or culture. He found that culture shock is almost like a disease: it has a cause, symptoms, and a cure.
2. Whenever someone travels overseas they are like "a fish out of water." Like the fish, they have been swimming in their own culture all their lives. A fish doesn't know what water is. Likewise, we often do not think too much about the culture we are raised in. Our culture helps to shape our identity. Many of the cues of interpersonal communication (body language, words, facial expressions, tone of voice, idioms, slang) are different in different cultures. One of the reasons that we feel like a fish out of water when we enter a new culture, is that we do not know all of the cues that are used in the new culture.

3. Psychologists tell us that there are five distinct phases (or stages) of culture shock. It is important to understand that culture shock happens to all people who travel abroad, but some people have much stronger reactions than others.

4. During the first few days of a person's stay in a new country, everything usually goes fairly smoothly. The newcomer is excited about being in a new place where there are new sights and sounds, new smells and tastes. The newcomer may have some problems, but usually accepts them as just part of the newness. They may find themselves staying in hotels or be with a homestay family that is excited to meet the foreign stranger. The newcomer may find that "the red carpet" has been rolled out and they may be taken to restaurants, movies and tours of the sights. The new acquaintances may want to take the newcomer out to many places and "show them off." This first stage of culture shock is called the "honeymoon phase."

5. Unfortunately, this honeymoon phase often comes to an end fairly soon. The newcomer has to deal with transportation problems (buses that don't come on time), shopping problems (can't buy favorite foods) or communication problems (just what does "Chill out, dude." mean?). It may start to seem like people no longer care about your problems. They may help, but they don't seem to understand your concern over what they see as small problems. You might even start to think that the people in the host country don't like foreigners.

6. This may lead to the second stage of culture shock, known as the "rejection phase." The newcomer may begin to feel aggressive and start to complain about the host culture/country. However, it is important to recognize that these feelings are real and can become serious. This phase is a kind of crisis in the 'disease' of culture shock. It is called the "rejection" phase because it is at this point that the newcomer starts to reject the host country, complaining about and noticing only the bad things that bother them. At this stage the newcomer either gets stronger and stays, or gets weaker and goes home (physically, or only mentally).

7. If you don't survive stage two successfully, you may find yourself moving into stage three: the "regression phase." The word "regression" means moving backward, and in this phase of culture shock, you spend much of your time speaking your own language, watching videos from your home country, eating food from home. You may also notice that you are moving around campus or around town with a group of students who speak your own language. You may spend most of this time complaining about the host country/culture.

8. Also in the regression phase, you may only remember the good things about your home country. Your homeland may suddenly seem marvelously wonderful; all the difficulties that you had there are forgotten and you may find yourself wondering why you ever left (hint: you left to learn English!). You may now only remember your home country as a wonderful place in which nothing ever went wrong for you. Of course, this is not true, but an illusion created by your culture shock 'disease.'

9. If you survive the third stage successfully (or miss it completely) you will move into the fourth stage of culture shock called the "recovery phase" or the "at-ease-at-last phase." In this stage you become more comfortable with the language and you also feel more comfortable with the customs of the host country. You can now move around without a feeling of anxiety. You still have problems with some of the social cues and you may still not understand everything people say (especially idioms). However, you are now 90% adjusted to the new culture and you start to realize that no country is that much better than another - it is just different lifestyles and different ways to deal with the problems of life.

10. With this complete adjustment, you accept the food, drinks, habits and customs of the host country, and you may even find yourself preferring some things in the host country to things at home. You have now understood that there are different ways to live your life and that no way is really better than another, just different. Finally you have become comfortable in the new place.

11. It is important to remember that not everyone experiences all the phases of culture shock. It is also important to know that you can experience all of them at different times: you might experience the regression phase before the rejection phase, etc. You might even experience the regression phase on Monday, the at ease phase on Tuesday, the honeymoon phase on Wednesday, and the rejection phase again on Thursday. "What will Friday be like?"

12. Much later, you may find yourself returning to your homeland and - guess what? - you may find yourself entering the fifth phase of culture shock. This is called "reverse culture shock" or "return culture shock" and occurs when you return home. You have been away for a long time, becoming comfortable with the habits and customs of a new lifestyle and you may find that you are no longer completely comfortable in your home country. Many things may have changed while you were away and - surprise! surprise! - it may take a little while to become at ease with the cues and signs and symbols of your home culture.
13. Reverse culture shock can be very difficult. There is a risk of sickness or emotional problems in many of the phases of culture shock. Remember to be kind to yourself all the time that you are overseas, and when you get home, give yourself time to adjust. Be your own best friend. If you do these things you will be a much stronger person. If you do these things, congratulations, you will be a citizen of the world!