It has been just over a month since I moved to Vancouver BC, and culture shock has been a constant companion.
Experts say that the first stage of culture shock is a honeymoon period, filled with joy and wonder as you explore your new country. Unfortunately I was abruptly catapulted past that stage when my rented UHaul mysteriously disappeared less than 12 hours after I arrived in Vancouver. (It had been towed: it was too close to a fire hydrant which was set back from the curb on an unlit corner, impossible to have seen in the dark when we parked it.)
Combined with the frenetic pace of the program I entered and leftover stuff from home, it has been a rough month. Desperate cries for help on Facebook have resulted in people coming out of the woodwork with supportive messages and open ears, which have all been very helpful. My mom even sent me a T-shirt that is everywhere in Portland, but never meant much to me until I got to BC (left).
A few weeks ago while chatting with my travel-savvy friend Debbie on Skype, I started mentioning some of the strange random cultural issues that had been popping up. Amused, she suggested I keep a list and then write a zine about it.
Turning negatives into a positive seemed like a great idea, so I’m excited to announce my next zine project will be just that! The tentative title is: “I’m a Stupid American: My Adventures in Canada and the Backwardness I Found I Had There.” Right now I’ve got a running list of about 26 items ranging from small differences to humorous anecdotes, but I imagine at some point I’ll want to write a narrative to encapsulate the larger experience. Perhaps I’ll also produce a companion piece about the “reverse culture shock” the experts say I’ll get upon returning home.
Don’t expect to see this project being pulled together until December at the earliest, and possibly not until Summer 2011 or later. The program I’m in is already kicking my butt, and I’m only four weeks in!