Culture Stress

I remember the day not long after our arrival in Costa Rica where I had a complete emotional meltdown (yes, there's a blog entry about that). Then during language school, there were days where I had had enough of Spanish. I didn't want to hear it. I didn't want to speak it. I didn't want to read it. While those days didn't occur very often, unfortunately for me when they did, it was always within the first 10 minutes of my first class, which was grammar.

Again, I've had my moments here in Mexico (most notably during the house-hunting process. There is, again, a blog entry about that, but it was never posted. Some things I write and choose not to share with everyone), but they have, again, thankfully been few and far between.

And then there's today.

This morning, I am unaccountably weepy, irritable, and hyper sensitive. The littlest things set me off into bouts of tears or anger: the front gate left open, clutter, the kids' squabbles, a friendly "how are you doing?", the realization that I mistook color-safe bleach for liquid detergent.

I can't remember the last time I had a sound, full night's sleep.

And Spanish. Oy. Some days I feel like I'm making real progress. This weekend, however, it felt like everything I was trying to communicate might as well have been in French for all that was understood by my listeners. And those trying to speak to me might as well have been speaking in French, as little as I understood them. I am heartily tired of not being understood and not understanding what's said to me in return. I've been told that the only way for this to get better is to spend more time listening and speaking the language. But when you're discouraged or experiencing culture stress, the last thing you want to do is hear or speak it more. And so you avoid it like the plague, which only makes it that much harder to speak and understand. It's a vicious, vicious circle.

I truly do love living in Mexico. I love the people, most of the food (as long as it's not too spicy), and the culture. There are far, far, far more things I love about life here than I dislike (mostly the driving). But I find myself increasingly homesick, looking forward to seeing friends and family and having the chance to become reacquainted with familiar places.

I did a little research on culture stress. All of the above are symptoms of this emotional state. I'm not exactly sure how to make it better. I plan to spend time in prayer, listening to the sounds and music that soothe me and raise my spirit, and rest. I definitely covet your prayers in the next few days especially.

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