We don’t know when it happens along the cross-cultural adjustment timeline, but at some point the outsider becomes an insider. You’re developing a sense of belonging in your new home. When broken down like that, cross-cultural transition sure is a lengthy, steady metamorphosis of oneself.
In that long, drawn-out process, I don’t want to overlook all the brilliant characters we met when we first arrived, or the scores of stories bursting with details that made life so tiring, and all the many guests that have bridged the gap from old life to new.
Right from the beginning, we noticed that out of town guests had that magical ability to splash our weary new world of labor and toil with bright, bold color. We take on our friends’ excitement as they delight in the freshness of the bread or the abundance of flowers in a medieval town.
We’ve toured a bunch of the sites around us in the past months, and it is never ever as vibrant as when we bring along a visitor from out of town. Yesterday, we took our VIP guest, my father-in-law, to Gruyères to see where the famous Swiss cheese is made. We finished a fantastic day at the well-known Cailler chocolate factory. It might remind you of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, where the kids got to stuff their faces with as much chocolate as desired at the end.
That’s what made the day so sweet (pun intended) for the little kids. But for us big kids, it was really neat to discover our new home a bit more. A drive around the lake with TM’s father was eye-opening as he would notice all these little details that we take for granted: a castle on a mount, rolling hills with red and orangey leaves, a rowing team out on the lake, a bakery that is open so late..
Having lots of visitors from our past life has infused our place with life and laughter over the past months. In our relative isolation, friends and family who visit are normalizing sounding boards. They give us bright, new perspective on our newfound life. But, I would be dishonest saying it’s only been a positive at this point in our adjusting. Of course, visitors are also going to stunt your “intentional local investing” if you stop your life to entertain, play tour guide or dwell on past memories. That’s why we try to invite guests to come along and just “do life” with us.
Perhaps more surprising yet – it’s in the presence of those who bring the memories of your past with them or say, notice kids tripping up on an English phrase, that I see how much in limbo we really are. I’m not sure all our visitors are prepared for that. I’m not sure I am prepared for that. Their sheer presence reminds you of a disconnect between past and present.
Personally, I’m finding it rather destabilizing to reconcile the person I had become in order to thrive in Colorado, with the person I am becoming to accept our new realities in France. My driving is different, my values have shifted, heck even my morals have slightly adjusted. So, it’s a weird readjustment to engage with visitors and then when they leave, to switch back to the realities of local life we face. I’m left to tap back into the tedious process of “being all in” here. No longer there.
We’re already undergoing the chrysalis. We’re not quite who we were before. But yet, we’ve not quite arrived here either. I do take it as a significant indicator that we are starting to feel ownership in our new home.
This post was part of the #Write31Days challenge, on the topic: Our family in global transition.
You can read the other posts written this month, by clicking on the links below!
1 – French Preschool
2 – Making friends in a new land
3 – ‘Yes’ people in a ‘No’ culture
4 – How language affects transition
5 – Not all French people are foodies
6 – The apple juice party
7 – I’m the third-born
8 – French-Mex ridiculous
9 – Busted by the Swiss police
10 – Educational field trip
11 – Visitors: the good and the bad
12 – Christmas in October
13 – A good place to get sick
14 – C’est les vacances!
15 – Playdate anguish
16 – The five year plan
17 – The Q&A edition!
18 – Holidays are for world-schooling
19 – The Granny I want to be.