Nothing can really prepare you for culture shock, unless of course, you have experienced it before.
Coming from, what is considered to be, one of the most liveable cities in the world is making this the contrasts even more vivid.
In Vancouver many people, whether they know it or now, lead a privileged existence. Everything works on command, every commodity and convenience is always available and it is all with a beautiful backdrop of ocean and mountains. You know where to get everything and often the “experience” is as interesting as the commodity (think Whole Foods).
Here too you have a stunning backdrop of ocean and mountains. Centuries of history add even more gorgeous ingredients to the mix.
However, here so much of what I had taken for granted is not available yet. There are no delicatessens and organic food stores (you go the the Saturday fresh market for that). Brunch places do not exist and cuisine is almost entirely local in nature; fresh fish or warm stews are the fare here. There are no fitness clubs, movie theatres with popcorn or the variety in retail we know. With a few bright exceptions like the new Aman Resort, the hospitality industry is behind the standards we know. Little Britain’s “computer says no” skit comes to mind sometimes.
Everywhere you turn, there is an entrepreneur’s dream waiting to be realized.
The culture shock creeps up on you slowly. At first, all the differences don’t bother you. You don’t even notice them because you are in awe of the beauty of this region. The novelty of everything numbs you to how different things really are and how all your familiar reference points are no longer there. Then sometimes you start to lose patience and little things start to get to you. Pings of homesickness rise from your gut when all you really want for dinner is some sushi or Chinese food, or just something as simple as home delivery.
As our furniture and personal items are about to arrive momentarily, it feels good to know that I will once again be surrounded by familiar things … at least at home. That will make a big difference with everything else that is so new. Now I know that living in an “emerging market” and feeling the culture shock just mean I have to remind myself more often to relax, observe, not judge and not have Vancouver as my reference point for my expectations. As I said before, change is coming at you here! It is going to be fascinating to observe.
There is much to discover in this ancient storied land, so back to cherishing the differences and exploring!