Culture Shock
October 20, 2012

Our experiences in life define our goals, values, and, most importantly, who we are. I have recently moved to the United States, and like many that have uprooted from their former lifestyles to a brand new foreign land, I have experienced my fair share of culture shock. Part of the experience of moving to a new country are the new experiences that come with it.

The environment we grew up in and the experiences we have throughout life define who we are. For most of my adult life, I have lived in an inner-suburban environment, which has made the adjustment to the quiet suburban American lifestyle one, that has at times, made me feel isolated.

Am I happy here? I have a rewarding career, a rewarding relationship, and I make enough money to live comfortably in an modern appartment while slowly building up my savings. So yes, overall, I am happy. However, this does not mean I do not miss my old life. I still feel like an outcast in a foreign environment, not an outcast among foreign people - I couldn't thank anyone enough for how warm and welcoming they have been, but an outcast in a suburbian environment that sometimes, makes me feel alien and isolated.

You could argue that I was am a city boy living out of my comfort zone. However, explaining this is not so easy. To many Americans, a 'city' has a negative connentation that tends to means this;

An endless abysmal jungle of crime, stress, and traffic. Or, they imagine another extreme - an overpopulated version of New York City or Hong Kong that is too expensive to ever consider living in. For me, my experience of growing up in a city was this;

That's a film of Adelaide I recorded a while back while testing out the recording features on my new smartphone. I also spent some time living in inner Brisbane;

I grew up taking public transportation. We didn't have the best public transportation network, but it was reliable enough that I could be in the middle of the city within 20 minutes of leaving my door, and that was good enough for me. Once you were in the middle of the city, everything you see in that video was within a 15 minute walk - department stores, malls, cinemas, parks, restaurants, even my university. We didn't have the tallest buildings, the best public transportation, nor were we the biggest city with a modest population of just over 1 million. What I miss most about home and the reason I feel isolated now was stepping out of my university into lively streets filled with people, and how once you were in the city, everything you needed on a daily basis was within a 15 minute walk. It was safe, the street life was vibrant and inviting, yet still felt friendly and relaxing, and I never had deal with traffic - qualities that most Americans find unassociatable with a city.

Having lived in the United States for a while now, I am getting better accustomed to the suburban American lifestyle. I still get a sense of isolation on a daily basis, but it helps to focus on the positive things that make life worth living - my rewarding career, my relationship, and my future. It also helps to blog about it. What I miss most about where I used to live isn't the big cities with millions of people or tall buildings. I miss the vibrant community feeling that you get when you walk down a street filled with activity - and having everything easily accessible within a relaxing walk on my own two feet and never having to stress over car payments, traffic, or parking.

My experiences are what have motivated me to start this blog. While I don't expect to be moving back home anytime soon, I have doubts whether the true urbanite within me will ever die - is it so wrong that my inner child one day craves a return to the simple city life?