The stages to integration

They say that people who go live abroad, go through different stages before they integrate.

First there is the honeymoon, the stage where you feel as if you are on holiday and everything is a great experience. Finally, you see those landmarks you know from pictures..

Then the frustration sets in and you realize that if you will be sticking around, some daily things will make you angry. Culture-shock sets in.

After that, understanding comes, you integrate. You settle, you make friends, you adapt.

Obviously, complete integration for me in this society is virtually impossible. There have been times when I jokingly said “I wish I could put shoe polish on my face so people would treat me equally when I go to town.” Of course I never did – and thus I am never treated equally. Better or worse, but never equally. So I guess you could say my current state is still in between frustration and integration and I can safely say I will not ever escape this.

So I end up having these moments were I am amazed because for a brief moment I see the situation from both perspectives, and usually – fortunately in most cases – it makes me laugh.

Yesterday, I went to the gym. Outside the gym, there was an audience.


Immediately, I thought: watch other people work out? What a weird thing to do.

But seriously, it must be really strange for them that we drive to a certain place, pay membership to this place and then start using weird looking shiny equipment to sweat. When you have to walk to the well to get water every morning and then walk another hour to get to school, we must seem deranged.


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