June 18, 2012 by JL Walker
When studying abroad, I remember attending presentations on the concept of culture shock, applied to living in a new place. An initial honeymoon phase is replaced by a period in which the person criticizes the new culture, then adjusts to new surroundings. As with anything new, be it a new car, a relationship or a new job, there’s usually a period of euphoria about the change before you realize that nothing’s perfect and that there will always be flaws in any situation. After the frist two extremes, there comes a time of balance, somewhere in the middle.
Like anyone, I experienced these stages too, and would like to think that I’m at the last stage of acceptance. I have come to accept the miles of red tape, grocery stores that are open 6 days a week and never after 9pm (though this has recently started changing), unreliable public transportation and people giving me weird looks if I don’t wear a jacket in January, even if it’s warm out. These are things that are different from what I grew up with, but I can live with it. There are always positive differences and negatives differences when comparing two things, right?
This feeling of acceptance is why I want to apply for dual citizenship. I have chosen to live in a country that was not my original home. Throughout the years, I have criticized many aspects that are different from that original home. On the other hand, I have also been able to see some things to criticize about home. In the end, personal experience teaches you that no place on earth is perfect and you have to take the good with the bad.
Of course I do fantasize about an ideal land with Italy’s food culture and the job market of the US (at least the job market of a few years ago), with Europe’s healthcare programs and the US’s taxation system. But I also dream about eating endless supplies of chocolate and ice cream – or maybe chocolate ice cream – without gaining weight. But we all know that’s not gonna happen, so why should I spend too much time with my head in the clouds?