Blog written last Friday evening – I only put it up now because the pictures needed to be put in.
Well, dear readers, are you getting bored with all of the excited happy writing yet? Well, I might have some good news for you. Today I had an introduction at the international office and somewhere in the information booklet they gave us is a paragraph about culture shock. It apparently comes in three stages:
1. The honeymoon stage – the newcomer is excited and fascinated by her new surroundings, enjoys the change and finds the difference with her own culture interesting.
2. Culture shock – the newcomer confronts more and more differences to her home environment and will have a culture shock. Characterized by stress, frustration, misunderstandings and negative feelings about the new cultural environment
3. Adjustment – The newcomer eventually understands how things work and how people interact. This enables her to better accept and appreciate the differences and function more effectively in the new environment.
So can you guess what stage I’m in? I wonder what the time-scales associated with these stages are. Most international visitors stay for a lot longer than seven weeks, and I guess that seven weeks is not enough to go through them. I feel more like a visitor than an actual resident, and of course still have my home in the Netherlands. But, who knows, my excitement might die down a bit. I’ll keep you updated on my mental state!
Now that we’ve had that, let me tell you something more about my honeymoon! Bloomington feels like a treasure chest of awesomeness. It feels like at any random moment I can suddenly find myself in an insanely cool situation. So what happened tonight? Two girls at my lab, including my roommate, work at the local clay studio. I was curious about it after seeing lots of pretty mugs, cups, bowls, etc. around the house. My roommate’s shift is friday night, so after dinner I headed out to the clay studio.
The clay studio itself turned out to be rather quiet, because there was a new bakery opening next door, and they were handing out samples. We decided to go check it out, but I had eaten right before going there and was just looking at the food without trying anything. Then halfway down the shop I spotted something savory and yummy-looking, but it said ‘blabla bacon blabla’, so I sighed ‘ohh, too bad, I don’t eat bacon’ and a girl that works there replies ‘It’s vegan. All of it is.’ Wow. A vegan bakery. Of course I went back to the front and got a plate and tried almost everything after hearing that. I’ve never been at a vegan bakery before! This one was so nice, it’s called rainbow bakery. But that’s not all.
On the other side of the clay studio there was also something going on, it turned out to be an art studio where artists can rent some space. It also has a big central part, and tonight they were having a gallery opening. There was live music (a double bas and a guitar with lovely vocals, the band is called Charlie Jesseph) and paintings (or actually: mixed media) by a local artist named Sara Pliske. I love the soft, sweet colours that she uses. The paintings had… texture. I think that might be what mixed media means. If I could afford these paintings I would put one up above my bed and feel like a princess every morning. Yep, a princess.
And that was only half of my evening. I also met a lovely young family who invited me over to come have dinner at their home while I’m here. They had such a nice, bubbly vibe, I really enjoyed talking to them and the friend they had with them. In the Netherlands I don’t have any friends that are marrying / having kids, but here I seem to be in an environment with lots of young families. That’s probably both because people have kids a bit younger here and because the people I hang around with are a bit older (ranges from 23 – 33). At the welcome Elise dinner last wednesday there were two postdocs that had brought their wife + kid along, and at the get together at our neighbours there was also a graduate student with his wife and their son. And of course, even though I myself will be testing adults at the Goldstone lab, I am at a cognitive development lab here, which basically means that we have kids coming in every day.
I have noticed this shift lately in how I feel towards children. When I was younger, I did not see myself having kids – ever. These last few years that has changed, and I am now quite sure that I do want to have children. I guess that happens growing up. So ever since (roughly) being 20 years old I was at a point where, theoretically, I wanted to have a family ‘when I grow up’, but in practice I still did not feel comfortable around children. This last year has really changed that, and I am now at a point where I genuinely like kids and think they are cute. Tonight was another milestone, because I was actually around a kid (little Victor) and not uncomfortable at all! Haha, the crazy effects Bloomington have on me.
Yet another part of my evening consisted of meeting the artist that did the posters I saw at Bloomingfoods the other day. She showed me her studio and how she makes the posters, and I will dedicate a blogpost to that this weekend. Isn’t that a wonderful coincidence? Isn’t the whole evening amazing? I bike downtown to a clay studio, find a vegan bakery that has an opening party, run into the studio of a local artist whose art I was already curious about, make some new friends that invite me over for dinner and get to see a lovely art gallery by yet another local artist, while listening to live music by (you get it…). Also, I didn’t even clay yet, so I’ll go back to the studio sometime next week to try out claying (and get some yummy vegan baked goods next door!).
Anyway, as is probably clear by now: I am definitely still in the honeymoon stage. I love it here. I catch myself thinking about when I could come back. I now no longer think that seven weeks is long enough to be here, I’m wishing it was longer. I have already been here for one week, out of seven… time flies! In the back of my head I do know that part of what I’m feeling is the new-ness of it all, and that I will probably come to miss more about home than just having my cats around. But for now, I’m in a happy bubble and enjoying the crap out of it!