A Mildly Hyperbolic Account of Cultural Adjustment

Adjusting to another culture is exhausting.
And I have this really flattering photo of myself to prove it.

If you've never gone through the experience of being put into a new place with new people and new cultural rules and expectations and a new language, you really can't understand how exhausting it is.

Everything wears you out.

And I mean, everything.

Each day (ideally) starts with a fresh burst of energy, and an optimistic resolve that today will be better. By afternoon, your mental capacities are fizzling and your energy is nonexistent. Maybe you take a nap, or maybe you push through. Seemingly regardless of your choice, evening finds you as a mindless, motionless specter of a once-intelligent human being. You drag yourself into bed with the fatal knowledge that tomorrow is another day.

Oh. joy.

By the end of two weeks, you're ready to burst into tears if one more person asks you a question. You don't want to speak to anyone. Ever again. You don't want to step foot out of your house, you don't want to learn a new language and you don't want to live here. You basically just want to watch mindless movies and eat toast and Nutella and cry. The only thing that keeps you going is the fact that you made a commitment, and you stubbornly refuse to let yourself think about quitting.

It will get better. It will get better. It will get better, becomes your mantra.

You repeat it to yourself constantly, even when you don't believe it to be true.

Especially when you don't believe it to be true.

Why on earth would you subject yourself to this?

I'm not sure why you would.

But for me, it's because this kind of hard is better than the easy that I left behind.

Because I can feel myself being transformed into the kind of person I really want to be.

Every time I feel overwhelmed (and that's about all the time) I'm forced to rely more consistently upon God.
For the strength to go when I want to quit.
For the peace to rest when I need to rest.
For the grace to admit my own weakness.
For the love that finds common ground instead of dwelling on the many differences that surround me.

I am forced to swallow my pride,
Ask for help,
Communicate like a two-year-old in a language not my own
And accept the fact that I will make mistakes,
       More mistakes.

I start learning how to bear all things, believe all things, hope all things, endure all things. How to listen to the voice of faith that declares, 'things are going to get better, and this is all worthwhile.'

And now, after almost two months here, I can honestly say that things do get better (much, much better).

And it is all worthwhile.

And I'm really grateful for all the people who're making this adjustment way, way, WAY easier than it could be.


  1. When you feel like that, just drink a cup of tea! (just in case you didn't know, that is my advice to everyone!)

    1. Haha! That's the advice I always dish out, too.

  2. Janie, Thank you for sharing. It's wonderful to see how Our Father is able to help you and keep you and transform you. I am thankful you are my daughter and most of all that you are HIS daughter.

    1. Every time it gets hard, I remind myself that I agreed to come in the knowledge that I would get pushed to my limits and beyond...because that's where God does His best, quickest work. Love you, Mom. I'm thankful that you're MY mom.


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