A few years ago, I was attending an orientation for my summer mission trip to Orlando. Around me during the session on Culture shock were students who were going to China, Africa, Asia, far more exotic places than Orlando, Florida. I almost tuned out during the whole session, because really, what’s so shocking about the culture in Orlando? They have air conditioning and toilets just like we do. I am so glad I listened though because I received the best piece of advice that day:
“It’s not bad, just different.”
There’s a point in the culture shock process where the butterflies and romanticism of the new environment has faded, and in its place comes frustration and anger at everything that is strange. This could range from irritation at a person who speaks different, disgust in new type of food, or just anger at the weather. The guy speaking at orientation told us to say to ourselves during those moments, : “It’s not bad, just different.” I used that phrase a few times in Orlando, and even more in my semester abroad in London. I used it again today, and I plan on using it many more times the next few weeks.
Over the last four years, I have not spent more than 3 months in one place. I was in school, home, school, home, orlando, school, home, school, London, school, home. Graduation, home. That’s a lot of culture, a lot of adjusting. Through it all, I was a student and I did adjust overall to this season of my life, a season of college. And for the last 12 years or so, i’ve been a student, inn the season of learning, writing, reading, researching, growing, being around my peers, being mentored, and mentoring, volunteering, serving, studying,, procrastinating. Well, I graduated college yesterday. My season as a student is over. That chapter is closed. As I think about this next part of my life, I know it will be nothing like college. College is unique, and amazing experience, Post-college life is different, its not bad, just different. I can’t live my whole life in on-campus apartments (that’s illegal…and expensive), I get to learn how to live alone, start a career that the last 12 years has been preparing me for, I get to learn all the adult things that adults do (although, I’ll feel very much like a child in adult clothing the entire time.)
I’m going to miss college so much. I already do. I miss the people, the professors, the environment. I don’t miss the homework. There will be times when this post-college season sucks, and is irritating and frustrating. However, I plan to remind myself that this part of my life is not bad, it’s just different. And that’s okay.
I’m thankful for this new season, the new faces, the new challenges and opportunities that will come
(And also I don’t have to write any more 15 page papers…so that’s a plus.)
–A recent college graduate,