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”

A Conscious Search For Blackberries

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Some journeys you take so often that eventually you stop noticing you’re on a journey. Your brain decides the intricate details of the trip are no longer important and your focus shifts inwards to thoughts and daydreams. In my last year of university I took an hour long commute, and most days I’d step onto the train and within the blink of an eye I’d arrive at my stop.

This jump inward doesn’t just happen while travelling. It happens wherever you go. From the first moment you step into a new environment your brain is training itself to block out details for the next time you visit. This is why new environments can create anxiety. Your brain overflows with information and it doesn’t know how to cope. At home your brain can shut off. It knows everything, so you can relax.

Have you ever noticed how a long walk through a new environment seems to take forever? Your mind is so conscious, taking in all the details that you don’t get a chance to daydream. Walking back you always say to yourself “it seemed shorter on the return.” This is because your brain is less conscious of the environment, you’ve already seen it, so you’ve got more time to lose in your mind.

Continue reading “A Conscious Search For Blackberries”