Dealing With Culture Shock

Train arriving at Cairo's Sadat station

To visit a country is only to skim the surface.

You can never truly grasp a place in a few days. Sometimes understanding can take months, even years. When visiting a new country, the differences are something you appreciate, the differences are why you’re there, they’re part of the experience, you may even say they are the experience. Staring at the queer fruits and vegetables in a market you say, “Wow, we don’t get these back home!” It excites you. Everything excites you. The voices, the people, the food, the streets, the sky, the mountains. Everything.

Later, you leave, go back to the comfort of your own fruits and vegetables. Back to your own voices, your own people. Back home, to what you know and love. Back to comfort. Continue reading “Dealing With Culture Shock”

The Beauty Of A View

Mt. Shasta (from Mt. Ashland)

I stumble upwards, crawling my way up boulders, heading for the summit one hundred feet above. I’ve been hiking since dawn, my body aches, but I scramble forwards anyway.

Although the sun is hidden by the trees I know it’s going down quickly. The sky is turning from blue to purple, the first sign that the day is ending.┬áMy hands painfully scrape the rocks but I know it’ll be worth it. There’s a view waiting at the top. A view. What the hell is a “view” anyway?

Rewind 15 years. I’m 10 years old. My dad is driving the family along a steep country road. As the road winds around hills, I feel my stomach starting to turn. Motion sickness. I groan and my mam turns around. “Don’t worry. We’re nearly there.” Moments later I’m dry heaving into a plastic bag as the car stops. My parents scramble out of the car and look out at the “view”. Perfect green hills roll away from us, going on forever, disappearing into a misty distance. “Look at that view!” my mam says. “Isn’t it beautiful?!” I look out. I see. Well. Hills. Nothing but a load of bloody hills. Big deal! My mother smiles happily and I promptly vomit on the ground. No view in the world could be worth this.

Continue reading “The Beauty Of A View”