Thursday, March 06, 2008


I am a person who gets very attached to people and places that I suffer a lot when leaving them and find a big difficulty in adapting to new ones.
I've experienced what's called culture shock more than once in my life, and I'm prepared for yet another one that's coming very soon.
The first time was when we moved to another city, leaving my friends, with whom I spent eleven years of my life, back. Despite being in the same country, the change was too much for me to bear. At school, I was surrounded by strangers instead of friends. I felt alienated and heart-broken. I used to call my friends and send them letters telling them how miserable I was without them. I didn't want to study anymore, I hated everything and everyone in my life, my school, my classmates, my teachers, everything. My grades were getting worse and worse. And I was getting more aggressive and depressed. Believe it or not, (I myself can barely believe that) It took me years to get used to my new life.

I visit Jordan once or twice a year, and I do love being there and enjoy it a lot. But it takes me one month only before I start feeling uneasy and homesick and would cry like a baby asking them to "take meeee baaaack hoooome".
The idea of living abroad and leaving Lebanon used to freak me out, and I had a feeling that I was going to leave, sooner or later. And that's what actually happened. When I got married and had to leave I promised myself not to think much about it, to be open-minded and look at the positive side, and do my best to get used to this new life as soon as possible. You know during the first stage, one feels excited, everything about the foreign country and its people seems interesting and fascinating, but later on the suffering and the homesickness begins... the worst phase of all.. when you're overwhelmed with the uncomfortable feeling of not belonging, of being an outsider, which will eventually lead to a feeling of isolation and even a hostility to the new environment. These symptoms, however, are most likely to disappear with the passage of time. I didn't reach the "recovery" and "stability" phase which is the normal outcome of living abroad though because thankfully my unborn baby decided to put an end to my frustration and bring me back home.

What made me write this post is that I noticed that there are people who, just like me, feel like a fish out of water when they move from a familiar environment and enter a strange one, while others can more easily cope with culture shock, make new friends and move on in life.
I have these two friends, one of them left her husband in Spain after three months of getting married and returned back after she could take it no more. While the other has been living in Holland for years and barely complained of being bored, homesick or depressed. People are not the same after all.
I hate el "ghorbeh".


Anonymous said...

I wish I can relate to that. But how about those who feel that they don't belong in their own homes?!

Anonymous said...

I for one hate ghorbeh..although I've been away for a while,am still a stranger and an outsider as the day I got here..It's beyond my control..I am very social yet once I leave my house,I become this anti social person..I swear sometimes I feel my jaws are locked and can't carry a conversation..I think you described me when u said:"overwhelmed with the uncomfortable feeling of not belonging, of being an outsider, which will eventually lead to a feeling of isolation and even a hostility to the new environment",and once am back home,am surprised to see my old self again without the mask..I feel free..

I was reading yesterday a piece by Gibran,and it describes something similar..I posted a part of it on the left side of my blog. Pls read it when you have time :)

Anonymous said...

ukhh yn3an el ghorbeh. Even stupid ghorbeh songs make me soft and I start to feel all emotional. It's very tough... I did the East to West relocation and gosh was that a cultur shock lol. Bas as you said... time is the cure of it all. Even though, I still feel ghareebeh because of the huge gap in traditions and being minority.

Anonymous said...

Do not get me started :(

To be honest, I think it depends on more than just the nature of a person. For example, leaving to the US is different from leaving to Thailand. The culture and lifestyle and language and even food barriers are easier in the US so you would adapt to it sooner.

Still, it always is hard to leave the place where you grew up and were surrounded by your beloved ones.

Jundi said...

the title reminded me of this ..

fiz3ane ya albi
tikbar fee hal ghurbi
2u ma ta3rifk bladi
5idni 3ala bladi

Diana said...

Jasim: I think that we all have this feeling at times, a feeling of being strangers even in our own homes, of being lonely and detached from our own society.
But what I'm talking about here is something totally different. Maybe you'll experience it one day.

Noura: so, it's not as they say? eno one will eventually get used to being away from home and gets back to his old self again?
I read it Noura, so touching.

Diana said...

Batoul: you said it, yn3an el ghorbeh.

Hala: yes I agree with that, the language plays a very important rule here. It makes it much easier for you to communicate with people. But when you still have to wait for months and years to master the new language, it only makes things harder on you.

Jundi: w ma ta3refni bladi, ana shayfeh eno bladna ma ra7 ta3refna, bas inshallah ta3ref wladna...

this song makes me very sentimental.

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