(Written January 27th)

They say the cycle of culture shock is “Honeymoon” phase and then a “Crisis.” But I think it happened backwards for me: today, I finally took a 360 from from the jet-lagged anxiety I’ve been feeling, and fell under the spell of this city’s charm.

The more I explore and try new experiences, the less foreign everything feels. Suddenly things that seemed terrifying are no longer scary. Places that seemed unapproachable are no longer so intimidating. And aspirations I hope to do no longer seem so far-fetched.

The more I explore and try new experiences, the more I appreciate this city. It has the same excitement, diversity and containment that I love about New York City. But it’s more relaxed, inviting and beautiful. (Sorry, NY). Every corner I turn has a unique sight to admire, and everything I taste is just amazing. Businesses will close to spend time with their families in the afternoon, and a 2-3 hour dinner of indulgence is a norm.

Sure, there are still many uncomfortable situations that may feel scary, intimidating, embarrassing or stressful. But I cannot learn without making mistakes (like botching an order or making a wrong turn), and I cannot appreciate this city without trying new things. Every little positive experience I have feels so much more significant than one would expect, and every little negative experience is becoming easier and easier to blow off. Bye, Crisis. Ciao, Honeymoon!

Credit: Heather Ayvazian

Credit: Heather Ayvazian

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