Saturday, December 18, 2010


When moving to another country you go through different phases. It starts with the honeymoon phase, when the new culture is experienced full of joy and excitement. However, soon the negotiation phase starts to play a bigger role. The differences between the home and host country become more and more visible, often with a slight negative undertone. Loneliness and homesickness play a big role during this phase. Even though there are quite some cultural differences between the Netherlands and Latvia, I almost never really disliked to be part of this new culture. With some healthy optimism and an attitude of not taking everything too serious a lot of negative feelings towards the host country can be avoided. Since I live in Latvia for quite a while now it might be easy to say this, even though I also had my start-up problems in the very beginning. I think I can say that I definitely reached the adjustment phase right now. It's sometimes even heading towards the mastery phase. I'm used to Latvia's culture and I'm not annoyed anymore by typical Latvian things like grumpy faces or the enormous inefficiency in this country. I always will remember the words of one of my Latvian teachers during my first lecture here in Riga. "Take it with a smile", he said, even though I was secretly about to cry about the amount of essays that had to be written for his course. But, he was right. I live my life with a smile, even though almost no Latvian smiles along. However... I must admit I spot happy Latvians more and more often! Even the grumpy lady from the meat department gave me my 350 gr. chicken with a true hearted smile last week. Maybe that was because I was struggling with saying "350" in Latvian. However, I think she definitely appreciated my try. This whole idea about the honeymoon from mastery phase popped up in my head while I was waiting in line in the supermarket. I stared at my shopping chart at suddenly realized I really feel at home in Latvia. There was a big pot of borscht, next to a tasty "saldskabmaize", which is a typical Latvian sweet-sour rye bread. Furthermore I was about to buy some Kefir, which is a beloved fermented milk drink. Like almost every day I also bought my Karums kurd snacks and a sweet piece of chocolate, manufactured by the Latvian chocolate producer Laima. Finally, my shopping chart doesn't look like the one from a tourist anymore!