Sunday, September 9, 2007

breaking in my traveling shoes

Well, I've finished my second weekend here in Hong Kong, and it's weird to reflect on my experiences so far.

I've just come back from my first venture to the "Night Market," and that was fun--lots of colors glittering under lights and pushy salespeople. I went with Elisha and Peta (among others), and after spending time with them today, I think they'll become buddies of mine. They're both a ton of fun, and I enjoy laughing with them--an important ingredient in any good friendship, in my experience.

I guess part of the reason it's bizarre to think about my time here so far is because it just doesn't seem like Hong Kong could really exist--it's been this theoretical place of textbooks and travel shows for so long that stepping into it is somewhat unnerving. Parts of it jump out at me as suddenly and strikingly familiar, such as the shining tables of jade and open-air food vendors, while other times, I am swept away by the profound foreign-ness of this place. Occasionally the sensation can be quite literal, as when I almost fell out of the bus this morning after getting tangled in its automated doors.

I've kept a very good internal balance so far, but the sense of being a rookie hasn't quite worn off yet, which can be stressful at times. Always having to ask people and and think about what you're doing gets a little tiring. Thankfully, with some journaling, prayer, and the support of my parents from across the miles, I've retained some sense of myself. Unlike my 6 weeks in Japan this summer (which was my first extended trip abroad), I'm making a conscious attempt to be patient with both myself and others during this adjustment period. It's really made a difference, and I think that accepting myself for where I am instead of trying to push myself forward has allowed me to be much happier during my culture shock so far.

In some ways it feels like I've been here forever, because it's so easy to be immersed in the moment as I experience this city for the first time--I simply forget about both past and future. Standing knee-deep in the flow of the present is truly beautiful, let me tell you. However, there are some mornings that I wake up and feel like a newborn--completely helpless, vulnerable, and ignorant. I think that going through the pain of culture shock is good. I like it in some slightly twisted way, I guess, because that pain lets me know that I'm growing. It tires me out after awhile, but that's good, too, because then I understand why my reliance on God is vital--not just some spiritual exercise.

This doesn't even begin to cover my first two weeks in Hong Kong, but I hope to document my internal and external journey more thoroughly in the future by journaling on a more frequent basis. Have a blessed night/day/etc!

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