We’ve been back in the USA for six months – half a year! We were talking the other day about if we were going to be returning to Cameroon, we would be in a mental mode and need to be in preparation mode to return. It takes several months to get all the paperwork, items for three years purchased, bring things here to a close while trying to reopen things there. We are relieved and thankful we don’t need to be in that mode and are looking forward to serving with Wycliffe here in the USA and here in Missouri from home!
As mentioned in the blog referencing The Incredibles, I made a comment about the cultural adjustment curve. We’ve experienced this curve in France and twice in Cameroon, so we are familiar with it and can identify the stages in our lives. We know this phase will pass, which is reassuring since we’ve been there, done that within this curve.
The Honeymoon Phase is a great, bubbly phase that lasts approximately two to three months and starts upon arrival. We felt like we were in Disneyland when we first arrived back because the electricity is consistently on, the water consistently flows, the water coming from the tap is okay to drink without making one sick with amoeba or cholera, the grocery stores are always packed with millions of items and if you can’t find an item at the store you’re standing in there are ten more stores within ten miles to get the item, it doesn’t take several hours to make dinner, there is air conditioning, the home we live in has shingles and insulation so we don’t here rain loudly pounding on a tin roof, the roads are paved, the list goes on and on.
The Culture Shock Phase is a low point. It’s anxiety and feelings of confusion and disorientation when one must operate within a new cultural environment or social environment. It comes on gradually and grows out of difficulties assimilating and affects one’s mood. It doesn’t last forever, but stinks when in the midst of it. This phase normally hits around the four to six month upon arrival and lasts a few months.
The Acculturation “Adjusting” Phase is the upside to the Culture Shock Phase. This phase usually begins around the seven to nine month mark until about eleven months after arriving. This is where you start to feel like you can handle the differences and make adjustments. It’s not as overwhelming and you feel like you can operate pretty well in this new environment.
The last phase usually hits within the twelve to sixteen month mark after arriving somewhere, it’s called the Adaption Phase. When you feel like you can operate effectively and the anxiety, confusion, disorientation subsides.