Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Transition Stages

At my PFO training, they spent awhile talking to us about 4 stages of transition.

Stage 1: Honeymoon. Everything is wonderful. You love all the new adventures and seeing everything through new (tourist) eyes. All of the new foods are yummy, you see all the major sites, and life is good.

Stage 2: Flight. Once the honeymoon is over, you decide you've had enough of this foreign place and are ready to go home. Things aren't the same and you miss your old life and want to go back to it.

Stage 3: Fight. Somewhere in the midst of the flight stage, you realize this IS your new home. You're stuck here long-term. But it's soooo different and you're going to fight all of these cultural discrepancies. Why do they do things in such a weird/bad/dumb/different way? I like my way better.

Stage 4: Acceptance/Acclimation. Eventually, you start to overlook the differences as just a part of life. You may adapt to them or you may adopt them. You're living here long-term and making the most of the experience.

I got to Malaysia on Tuesday, July 31 (a week ago yesterday!!). My family came in on Wednesday and we went straight to the beach for an incredibly relaxing (yet short!) vacation. On Friday afternoon my parents left, on Friday night one of my sisters left, and then on Saturday night my other sister left. Then it was just me.

I didn't expect it to happen so soon, but Sunday was definitely a "flight" kind of day. Nothing seemed to go right and all I wanted to do was climb into MY bed in Virginia and sleep it off. It was nothing major even, just all the little differences that crept up on me.

I woke up on a futon with no sheets, because those aren't common in Malaysia. I took a shower with water-heater-heated water and a shower head that was "Asian-sized" tall. I had to rifle through 5 suitcases to finally find an outfit I could wear. I went to church with wet hair because my hair dryer isn't the right voltage. I spent 30 minutes of my afternoon at the phone store because the first SIM card they gave me was already broken. I had to walk to the mall to connect to the Internet. 3 coffee shops later, I still hadn't managed to get a connection good enough to check my email. Everyone on the sidewalks and the subway were staring at me because I'm the tall, crazy white girl. They were playing Celine Dion's Titanic theme song for half of the subway ride. I'm pretty sure that was the breaking point where I almost bought a plane ticket....

I'm not trying to sound like I'm miserable, though at the time I may have been. Haha. I love Malaysia. It has been a wonderful experience moving here and I know the little challenges are not only making me stronger, but will soon become second nature and hardly noticed anymore. I know that Sunday's frustrations were more a result of me being completely exhausted after 3+ weeks of going non-stop to "leave well" and a jam-packed week with my family to "enter well"! I am confident that after I get a day or two to relax, get caught up on email, have some "me-time", screw my head back on straight, etc., I'll feel soooo much better! Once we get an apartment and I'm able to settle in, I'll be even better still! My goal is to make the "Flight" and "Fight" stages as minimal as possible so that I can live in the Honeymoon and Acclimated stages for the majority of my time and really get the most out of this experience!


  1. Yes, I understand. Tall, white, crazy, yup. Try to make those community/friend connections soon, then take a new friend along on these frustrating "fix it" errands to ease the stress. Hang on! We're with you!

  2. Anyone who's done this before can TOTALLY relate. I wish I could say it gets better right away, but what I WILL say is you're braver than I am. I had mom, dad, and Amanda here with me... you're flying solo. Proud of you veege!