Going from one culture to another is difficult, for anyone and everyone. We are creatures of habit; we settle into what we are comfortable with and rarely stray from it. This is not necessarily healthy, it is just what we do. For those of us that push ourselves from our boundaries and visit new places, or move to them, we tend to experience what is called culture shock. I am sure you are familiar with this term, I bet you have even experienced it before. I have, more than once. Every culture is different, and when leaving your own and entering another it takes some time to transition. We all cope in different ways, a lot of us experience home sickness and want to go back to our comfort zones, but for those of us that stick it through and really attempt to integrate into a new way of living end up happier than before, as well as more educated and balanced.
I have uprooted myself from my comfort zone twice now, the first being my move to University. Growing up in a small town in central Maine in the U.S., I had always had the same circle of friends and routine. I knew my surroundings, was comfortable with them, and went about my daily life knowing what to expect. Then I moved to Manhattan for school. Almost everything changed, including my diet, classes, friends, sleep schedule, and so much more. It was a whirlwind! I could hardly catch my breath. A few weeks in though, and I had a new routine started, had made friends, and got my schedule down. I was comfortable again, and I still really feel at home in New York, maybe even more so than in Maine. And then I decided to do a semester abroad, and so now I am here, in Cyprus.
Europe in general is a lot different than the states; people here are more leisure, know how to manage their time, and seem to just live a happier life. I feel like I am moving in slow motion here, as though I am not doing as much as I should be. I am used to the fast paced, time crunching days of New York. The deadlines, hard work, not having enough hours in the day to do all that I need to. Here, I feel as though there are double the amount of hours in each day. I am not as anxious, as pressured, I can actually breathe and take my time. At first it was a little difficult to get into the routine of things here, but I finally feel as though I have it down.
Aside from the transition, being in Cyprus has been an absolute dream. I have made some amazing friends who share an avid interest in traveling and learning, who I love to be around. I have tried so many amazing foods, my favorite of which are halloumi cheese and tzatziki, drank a lot of Cypriot coffee, and am just embracing the newness of this beautiful culture. One of my favorite places to go (besides the beach) is the Old Town of Nicosia, where I can shop, eat, meet new people, and even cross over to the Turkish occupied side of Cyprus. It's incredible. Other places, which are a bit further from me, that I love to go to are the Limassol old town, where I can see ruins and castles; Paphos, where I can visit Aphrodites rock and Adonis baths and waterfalls; Ayia Napa, where I can enjoy the most gorgeous beaches; Troodos, where I can see incredible views from the tops of mountains; and Famagusta, where I can see the wreckage left from the war, and eat amazing baklava. I was lucky enough to have had my parents visit me and experience all of this as well. It was so great having them here, not only for their company (which I love) but also just to introduce them to something new and see what I have been living in. It is amazing to have family that supports me in all of my ventures, which my parents have never failed to do.
On top of getting to see my parents while abroad, I also got the opportunity to visit long time family friends who live in Switzerland. Gabi and Jean-Marc took me into their home for a few days and showed me the beauty of Vevey, Gruyere, and Friland. Their generosity was so lovely and I felt right at home with them, I consider them more family than I do friends. That being said, I have more travels coming up and cannot wait to see what they bring, maybe more life long friends?
To be continued..
Also, there are so many cats in Cyprus. It makes my heart happy.