18 April 2007

Manifesting Peace

With a few days' distance from my first really negative experience in England, I've had time to reflect on expatriate life and Google for information on others' experiences as well. Today I came across the Ex-Pat Manifesto, to which I would like to add the following point:

  • While I am a representative of my country, please consider that perhaps I left it for a reason. The probability that I disapprove just as much as you do of the government that I left behind is high. I'm happy to engage in intelligent discussions of my reasons for leaving it, but as a human being with feelings, it hurts if the first thing you say to me is along the lines of "I hate you people". That said, I will still respond civilly to these sentiments. I'm a guest in your country and I respect that. I hope that one day we can share a mutual respect and that our learning about each other will give some hope for the world learning to get along peacefully on a global scale.
The weekend really left a poor taste in my mouth. I was hurt, but I'm not going to allow the actions of two people to discolour my impression of an entire country. Doing so would only be hypocritical.


wayne said...

Hollo,my friend.I think you wouldn't mind I call you like this.I'm wayne,a chinese colleage student.Nice to meet you!I have read you latest articles,I know you doesn't get along with the life.Hope you have a pleaseat life later.

Dave Knapik said...

Hiya, Wayne! Thanks for your comment. It's nice to meet you as well. I'm actually loving life quite a bit, it's just England that has been a bit hard on me lately. I appreciate the well-wishing, though, and I'm sure it will all work out. Can't let the annoying people get you down!

Christoph said...

Dave, don't let yourself down by those bloody ignorant people on the island ;).

Moving to another country is an exciting adventure, but can be very frustrating sometimes, especially if coming with high expectations.

Not sure if you have read much about culture shock, ethnocentrism or the "acculturation curve".
(Very, very interesting research field.)

The latter concept depicts a W-curve.
1st phase: Moving to another country: Everything is great, exciting. You are wearing your rosa sun glasses and everything evil and bad is blocked. You are having the time of your life.

2nd phase: It's going down. All of the sudden daily routine kicks in. You start seeing things that you dislike (but successfully managed to ignore before) or differ in your culture. Btw, this happens after about 4-6 months!

3rd phase: It's going up again. you have adopted to the new culture and surroundings. you have learned to deal with cultural differences. well done!

4th phase: moving home. oh no, it's all going down again. being at home you feel how you greatly miss the other culture. all of the sudden people in your surrounding seem to be so backwards and lame...nothing exciting...you just want to go back. but wait, after a while you will appreciate your own culture again (guess, that would be the 5th phase then)

I experienced exactly the same when I went to the States for one year. In the beginning, everything was just great and awesome. I loved my new life so much and did not miss Germany nor family nor friends at all. But after about three or four months I became homesick, questioned the 'strange' American behaviour and culture. After about six month that was all gone. I felt almost like an American and thought it was the greatest country ever. Going back to Germany was hard in the beginning. I felt like an alien because no one could actually understand what I had experienced back there. Everyone seemed so 'uncool', everything sucked big time. But I got over it and now have a balanced view on the American and German culture. Both have their pros & cons, but you won't realize that until you have experienced both!

Btw, I found out about those concepts after my stay in the States. If I had known that before, I would have been much better prepared and would not have fallen in such a deep hole. Although this knowledge does not prevent such things happening, it greatly lessens the effect, because you know what is going on.

Dave, you are such a cool fellow...don't change!