Friday, August 3, 2012

Was I Begging for Reverse Culture Shock?

I arrived at JFK Airport in New York the evening of July 26. I didn't sleep much during the roughly 11 hour flight from Kiev. Instead, I learned 50 more verses and reviewed my Bible quizzing material for the impending national competition.

Upon arrival, my foot was hurting more than it was when we took off. I don't think I mentioned this before, but my foot began hurting and swelling the last day of camp. I wasn't sure what I did to it, and I didn't think anything of it. But it was getting worse and worse, and by the time I got to my hotel in Manhattan the evening of the 26th, I could hardly walk on it.

The next day, Friday, I would have the entire day in New York to do whatever I pleased. I first did as recommended by my mother and grandmother and went to an urgent care center to have my foot looked at. The doctor there sent me to have it xrayed, thinking it might be broken. While waiting to be called with the results, I went to the New York Public Library and blogged. I was overwhelmed as I walked around the city. One thing vastly different about America is that there are people of all colors, shapes, and appearances; Eastern Europe is less diverse to be sure. But the thing that stood out to me most was the volume. I think one thing is that my surrounding every-day conversation for the past few weeks has been in languages I don't understand, and suddenly I could hear everything around me. But another thing is, yes, Americans speak really loudly! Plus, I was in New York city. What in the world was I thinking? Going from Vilnius to New York was not exactly an easy transition. Not only that, I was also going from being surrounded by people I know to being alone in a big city. Reverse culture shock hit me in that I probably looked like a deer in the headlights the entire day. When people I didn't know smiled or spoke to me, I thought it was the strangest thing because that doesn't happen in Eastern Europe. It was all very interesting.
Later that day, the doctor called to tell me my foot might be fractured, but there was nothing that could be done; however, I should stay off of it and ice it.

That was almost funny. I was travelling to St. Louis the next day for Bible quizzing nationals in which we dress up, and I was planning on wearing high heels. I was also planning on playing volleyball. And then I had a long road trip home. Staying off of my foot was not really an option.

As for my evening, I decided to take a walk over to the Empire State Building, which was a short 8 blocks away. I had to do something while I was in New York. What was I going to do? Be content with a doctor appointment and sitting in a library? No, I went to the 86th floor of the Empire State Building where I was met with a great view.

But this view was one that made me miss the views in Vilnius more than anything. Being the exact opposite, a busy, noisy, bright city, this New York view made me long for the smaller, quieter, more peaceful town surrounded by hillsides sprawling with forests in Vilnius.

Upon getting back to the hotel, I received a phone call informing me that my flight to Chicago (where I had a connecting flight to St. Louis) was cancelled. It ended up being a good thing, giving me a direct flight out of Laguardia, to which I could catch a shuttle for $20, instead of my flight to Chicago O'Hare from Westchester, to which I was going to have to pay about $120 cab fare. So I was actually grateful for the flight cancellation.

Saturday afternoon, I got on the plane, excited to see my friends in St. Louis.

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