Over My Head (Culture Shock) 

In life, we all occasionally have had that moment where we realized that we were in over our heads. That we, bit off more then we can chew, so to speak. Where we could not all so perfectly gauge a situation or an instance, and had a more grandiose vision or expectation only to be surprised when we ourselves, couldn’t fulfill our wildest dream. I’m sure you have absolutely no idea what I am talking about, but soon you will.
Perhaps the easiest, most common example, is when you are hungry. Imagine you haven’t ate in quite some time, and you show up to a restaurant or a grocery store extremely famished, to get some food. In your current famished state, you tend to exaggerate how hungry you actually are, and overcompensate by buying an extreme amount of food, perhaps way more then you yourself, can finish. It is only when your meal is delivered at the restaurant, or when you show up home with all your groceries that you indeed realize, that you “bit off more then you can chew,” and ordered or picked out too much.
But that is just a small everyday, first world problem, that many of you can relate too. However, if any of you are like me, and really crave adventure, and seem to satisfy this craving through traveling to crazy countries you could only imagine in your wildest dreams, you will understand the complexity of this post. Especially if you tend to travel alone, like I enjoy doing most of the time.

You see, when I decided to fulfill my mission of seeing the world, and you know that I mean really seeing the world, for the good and the bad, the rich and poor, and really trying to understand how people live across all the continents, you sometimes over-estimate yourself, and end up somewhere that totally surprises you, or perhaps even gives you a bit of a culture shock. If you are an international flight attendant like me, or just simply love to travel, you probably understand what I am talking about, as traveling to the same usual destinations start to get repetitive and sometimes even annoying. And while I love to have a job that affords me the lifestyle to “pick up a Paris,” sometimes we grow bored of the same usual routes, and the same usual first world problems we deal with an all too egocentric society.
So you start to really think outside the box when it’s time to plan your own personal holiday. Such as heading to places that most people have no desire to even visit, haven’t heard of, or places that are just simply off the beaten track. Places that even when you tell your friends or family at the next holiday party that you visited, that the room draws quiet and near, because perhaps you are the only person they know whose traveled to this crazy exotic place, and they all lean in to listen of your tales.

But to be one-hundred percent honest it’s not always easy, especially when you encounter an extremely foreign place alone, for the first time. And it’s only in that initial moment of when you step out of the airport, or step out of the taxi in front of your hotel, or when you go to try and order some local cuisine that you have that feeling of culture shock. It comes in all shapes and sizes, and often doesn’t repeat itself in the same instance, but when it occurs, you always know. It’s that moment when you realize you have no idea what your eating because the menu wasn’t in English, or when you try and cross the road and almost die multiple times within seconds, or when you have to haggle the price with someone just to drive you to the destination you are going because that city has no, or a very poor public transport network, or even when you are just walking around aimlessly with no idea of where you really are, and realize how far you actually are from home.

While that might sound like an absolute nightmare to most of you, it’s that exact culture shock that gives me the thrill that keeps me alive. That tells me that everything is going to be alright. Because in that moment, you are only thinking the exact opposite. Only the worst possible scenarios are running through your head. However, it’s in that fleeting moment that you realize that perhaps you have finally planned a holiday where even you, yourself “bit off more then you can chew.”

And so my friends, is the exact feeling that I once again experienced when I stepped out of the taxi cab in front of my hotel in Saigon, Vietnam in the middle of the night. As I desperately glanced across the sea of motorbikes and helmets in which about ten roads all come together in one crazy roundabout traffic circle, I once again felt like I was in way over my head. Like I bit off more than I can chew. Like I was an outsider coming to some strange land, amongst a group of people that all so rarely perhaps, see people of different ethnicities.

 

For those of you that have had this feeling before, you probably know exactly what I am talking about. And for those of you that haven’t, it’s truly an experience within itself, that fulfills a different niche in your life, a niche that’s so desperately waiting to be cracked open, and looked into. A niche that differs every time, and demands to be concurred. Even if in that very moment that you feel like you are in way over your head, just breathe. Breathe and remember that life is beautiful and this is merely a glimpse across your journey into the unknown world out there. And remember to take it all in, because it may not all be like that ever again.

To finding the beauty out there, XOXO.

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