CULTURE SHOCK AND ITS IMPACT ON MENTAL HEALTH

My visa took about 60 days processing time. This still did not prepare me mentally for what was to come. I did not even google a single thing about the country I was about to move to. Moving majuu was key. It was a feeling of making it. However, we can partly blame the circumstances surrounding it all or rather the reason for moving. Newly married and pregnant. The first time I heard of culture shock was during a bus ride home and a friend asked whether I was prepared for it, Not knowing what it was I defensively said yes. The mental turmoil I went through after moving abroad was a great source of strength and eye opener. I share this because I hope it will help you prepare better.

Culture shock

This I have come to learn it comes in phases, wonder,frustration, adjustment/depression and acceptance. I am in the final one. When you pack your bags and leave what you have known to be home for majuu, it is all excitement. No one mentions the different culture you are about to encounter. Exciting to travel and see the world from a different perspective. On getting here, it was all a wonder.

From underground trains I had never seen to a totally new language. My cousin and I had to google how appliances like dishwashers work. Now I had to use them daily. It was too much for my mental strength. Frustration set in when getting out of the house was a challenge. I was limited by the fear of unknown. Let’s not talk to a million and one requirements I had to fulfil to acquire the residence. Joblessness. Lack of skill recognition to mention but a few. I took jobs that never crossed my mind before.

I had no problem with being a waitress or doing some cleaning job. The culture here creates respect for all jobs. That being said, there was the feeling that I had worked so hard in school to actually be placed in a better job position. This thought did not stop the hustle though. Remember in these streets we hustle like we never went to school. It was frustrating to say the least.

A few months later depression kicked in. My emotions were all over the place. I got to a point of self loath for the choices I had made in life. This paired with post partum depression was a disaster. I felt like I was at my rock bottom. Bringing up a child in the state of mind I was in was frightening. On so many occasions we held discussions with my husband on the possibility of relocating back to Kenya.

Sometimes we over romanticize the idea of home so much and forget to enjoy what we have in the moment. That was me. I felt like there was a job waiting for me there. With all the joblessness it still felt like it was the safer place. Comfort zone. I still look at my husband with awe for standing by me through this difficult period in my life. It still surprises me how calmly he handled it.

Acceptance. This is where I am at now. Everything has unfolded for the better. Yes I still have to do those jobs but a girl has to hustle. Whatever comes as long as its clean money and dignified, I take. Moreover, starting up my Masters degree helped see the progress.The feeling of being stuck was slowly fading. 3 and half years later, I don’t know a better place to raise my children from than in Copenhagen Denmark. The values and skills instilled in them is amazing. I can confidently say that our family goals and life are thriving and for that I am glad I made the decision to stay.

In the next posts I will talk about the challenge of your friends and family moving on without you. How difficult it is to make new friends as we get older. Why we should be careful in these streets of majuu with the friendships we create.

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