So I have just left my daughter at nursery and as I gave her a kiss and headed for the door, I could hear her voice behind my back shouting “Daddy” and her crying and crying. I know I have to leave her because that is part of the process and I know that when my wife picks her up 3 hours later, she won’t want to leave and she will be laughing and running around.
It doesn’t make it any easier though and made me think a lot about her but also our students. We have a few students every so often who really struggle to get used to life in London. They don’t want to come in and they miss their family and friends. But just like my daughter, they find that when they come to classes and go out on the Social Programme that they soon don’t want to leave UIC or leave London.
This culture shock or homesickness is a very strange thing when you are experiencing it but it is a very predictable and normal thing for everyone. It has 4 clear stages: Honeymoon, Horror, Humour and Home or more formally Honeymoon, Disintegration, Reintegration and Independence (see diagram)
taken from http://www.britishgermanassociation.org/special.php?pageno=19
The Honeymoon stage is when everything is new and amazing and exciting.
The Horror stage is when suddenly you realise that you are not at home and your family is not with you and you don’t know what to do (how my daughter felt this morning)
The Humour stage is when you get used to the new culture and can laugh about the problems you had at the beginning.
Finally the Home stage is when this new, foreign situation feels normal and you feel that this is how your life is meant to be.
What is most interesting about the graph is that it is a W shape which means that the whole cycle repeats when people return home. Have you ever got back from a holiday and felt that the weather in your country is awful, that the views out of your window just aren’t as nice and that the thought of work the next day isn’t something you’re really looking forward to? If you have (and who hasn’t?), you have experienced the second half of that graph and all of our stduents experience this.
When my wife picks up my daughter, she will probably start crying saying that she still wants to play with her friends and still wants to play in the big sand pit of the school which would never fit in our front room.
And this is all part of the experience. This adaptation to a new culture makes us stronger, more informed and more interesting people which is why I would recommend it to anyone. Come to London, come to UIC and see what changes that experience will have on you!