West Meets East

A Western man travels East in search of love, opportunity and happiness.

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Name:Michael Strickland

This blog chronicles my adventures as I leave my native California and travel east to northern Virginia to start a new life. I can only imagine the funny stories I'll recount here as I experience a wildly different climate, culture and way of life.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Peaks and Valleys

In high school, I participated in a yearlong study abroad program to Honduras. One of the many pamphlets they sent with us contained a detailed graph illustrating the stages of adjustment to a new environment and culture. I gave it a brief glance before stuffing it away with all the other paperwork.

A few months into my stay, after experiencing many highs and lows, I pulled out that graph and looked at it again. This time, with personal history to compare against it, I was shocked to see how accurately the graph depicted the adjustment process. The peaks and valleys of the graph almost exactly mirrored the peaks and valleys I had already experienced: the euphoria of visiting a new country, the struggle with the language barrier, the pride at overcoming that barrier, the pangs of homesickness, the sense of belonging after successfully integrating, and so on. The highs and lows were so evenly matched that the graph could have been mistaken for the regular ebb and flow of ocean tides. For the rest of the year, I kept the graph close at hand. Its accuracy was so spot-on that I could almost use it as a predictor of how things would go in the future.

Since that adventure, I’ve gone through other adjustments related to relocation. During the Navy, my “home” changed on a regular basis. After leaving the military, I relocated from San Diego to San Luis Obispo (California’s Central Coast, halfway between L.A. and San Francisco), where I didn’t know anyone. Each time, I faced similar stages of adjustment, a series of highs and lows before reaching a stable state of integration.

And now, I’ve done it again; this time, I moved to the East Coast, a place almost as foreign as Honduras (just kidding). Since I began this blog, more than one person has commented on the change of tone in my writing, which has ranged from initial excitement to expressions of negativity. While I’ve certainly hit some low points, sometimes questioning my actions, it’s only the natural adjustment to such a huge life change. I’ve also had some great times out here, and life with CJ makes it all worthwhile. What you might perceive from my reports are the same peaks and valleys I’ve had to get through during past relocations. You’ll continue to read negative posts along with the positive ones, just as I’ll continue to experience highs and lows while I acclimate to my new life.

Note: For those interested, I think I located the original graph referenced above: Rhinesmith's Ten Stages of Adjustment.

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