Travel

Different Feels: Culture Clash vs. Culture Infusion

I know, I know…just lay it on me! Guilty as charged for not posting for a long time. The truth is, I’ve been going through a tough time, which has made me anxious to blog. However, I have realized that I should embrace the things that I like to do as opposed to push them away in times of need. So here I am 🙂

Part of what I wanted to talk about today is a mixture of relating to people, feeling the need to get along with everyone, and catching yourself between a culture clash. Or should I say culture infusion?

When I first moved to America about 3 years ago, I wanted to go to college and go back to what was home (Middle East) at the time. A few years later, I’ve come to realize that this has become more and more home for me. I have gained so much in just a few years (besides almost having my Bachelor’s Degree.) I met incredible people whom I am blessed to call my second family, I’m lucky to have an awesome job, I fell in love, and I never felt so out of my comfort zone in my whole entire life.

Yes. The funny thing is that the more that I live here, the more that I realize that although I do have somewhat of a westernized mentality, there are so many more things that I have learned about myself being here that go back to my roots, values, and culture (religion being set aside.) I thought I was living through a major culture clash, but now I am finding out that it is more of an infusion of cultures. I am embracing my past and my present and merging them together. I am taking the good from both of my backgrounds and making my own set of beliefs, ideals, and values.

I have always thought I was a naturally curious person, my family calls me “too curious” which is not even a thing I’m pretty sure. It’s part of the reason why I moved here, because I was curious about the world, wanted to learn, experience, and adventure at the same damn time! So my curiosity took me here, to Florida, where I learned and still am learning so much about myself through ways I never thought I would.

How, you ask? For many of you, you may not be able to relate (story of my life) but it’s really the little things that make you think. For example, I don’t get most of the American sayings that they use here. What the hell is “take it with a grain of salt” ??? I still to this day don’t know what that means, most of the times I just nod and give a little “heh” when someone says something I don’t understand, to hide my confusion lol. I also have a lot of language gaps (i.e limited vocabulary, grammar sometimes, etc.) Even though I don’t speak with an accent, it’s still kind of my second language. Many times its just me not being able to relate to people, their lifestyles, childhoods, and little norms that I never had while growing up.

This makes it hard, to this day, to relate to people and reach common ground. Sometimes it feels awkward and uncomfortable, as I don’t fit in 100% with people here or back home. The weird part is that even when I’m home, I also find myself feeling different (culture wise, personality wise, etc.) I have a lot of opinions, my Middle Eastern ones are highlighted in America, and my American ones are highlighted in the Middle East. Weird, right? I’m basically like a culture milkshake. Yum. As a result, I used to feel insecure to be different and basically paranoid because I would be thinking “omg these people think I’m just this foreign weirdo. Just stop being yourself, and remove yourself from the situation.”

Now I am beginning to realize “umm I’m actually pretty badass. I am well-traveled, educated, love diversity. So what if this makes me a little different?” What I’m trying to say is, it’s okay if you ever feel like you can’t relate to people, the whole point isn’t to make yourself likable to everyone. It’s OKAY if you don’t have things in common with every single person you meet, and most of all, its OKAY to be yourself at all times, in fact, its encouraged. 🙂 Even if that means some people may not like you, that quite alright. Don’t ever feel like you need to change yourself to be able to relate to others. That defeats the whole purpose of being yourself. If anything, being immersed somewhere outside your comfort zone makes you learn the most about yourself.

Be yourself

I like to be goofy, tell jokes, and do silly things. However, I also enjoy politics and discussing public affairs. Then again, I enjoy reading, shopping, and manicures. I love diversity, learning about different cultures, and having an open mind. Even though I don’t fit in to a specific category of being “from” somewhere, that’s ok. I kind of like it, it makes me feel connected to the world in general and fits into my curious nature. At the end of the day, it’s not where you’re from that counts, it’s what you make of yourself using your past, present, and future. And if people want to judge, then let them have at it, because at least you’re being true to yourself. So embrace it! I know I am. 🙂

I hope you enjoyed this piece, and I hope this inspired you to embrace your background just as it is and to continue being the you-est of you!

Bisous,

-SH ❤

Island Adventures

Salut!

It’s been a minute my fellow readers..this is partly my fault for being so MIA but I promise I’m back! Bearing gifts hehe. The last few weeks has been one crazy adventure after the other, but I managed to snap a few bits and pieces of the ride on my first travel post! This is also my first time experimenting with my new DSLR Philippe! (one of the photos was with an underwater disposable cam), so any feedback and/or tips would be greatly appreciated. 🙂

(P.S All photos are unedited/un-retouched)

Enjoy!

Bisous,

SH ❤

Leaving Tampa
Sunrise

Sunrise

Sunrise in Full Swing

Sunrise in Full Swing

And off we go!

And off we go!

So Colorful!

Pink Buggy!

Beautiful Cozumel

Beautiful Cozumel

Cozumel..

Crystal clear waters..

Crystal clear waters..

Playa

Playa

Ocean fun!

Ocean fun!

Lovely

Mexico

Cozumel

The Clearest of Waters

The Clearest of Waters

Sunset at Paradise

Sunset at Paradise

The Carnival Paradise

The Carnival Paradise

DSC00439

What A Beautiful Mess

pointed arches

“I wake up to the sound of Vespas whizzing across the road. I feel a light breeze wander in and around my grandmother’s bedroom, where I lay half awake. I look around, all the windows are open and the curtains are dancing. The entire room is drenched in golden sunshine. What time is it anyway, I wonder. I check the clock on my side table and its 9:32 am on a warm July afternoon, in my city of Beirut, the capital of my home country, Lebanon. I catch my grandma’s eye as she sees me awake in bed and she rushes over to ask me if I want her to make me a sandwich or if I wanted go to down to the local bakery across the street and buy a freshly baked chocolate croissant. Ah, one of the reasons I love visiting my grandma during summers. She loves to baby me and I love to be babied by her. I tell her I’m not hungry yet and make myself some chai and head towards the veranda overlooking the bustling street below.

Its World Cup season, and as I look in front of me and around me I see colorful European flags hanging from one veranda to the next, in perfect harmony as if the neighbors intentionally intended on doing so. I hear a foreign Southeast Asian language being spoken above me. As I look up, I spot a housekeeper on the balcony on the floor above me, hanging clothes to dry, speaking to another housekeeper who is also on a balcony in the building across from us. They are talking in such an animated manner. Totally casual. I look below me and watch the people bustling about on the street, the baker talking to the butcher outside while they are on smoke breaks, the grocer trying to sell fruits on his grocery cart, calling out and saying that they are on special. Suddenly, overcome by hunger, I contemplate going down the street to get a croissant.

I go inside and realized the power went out. Hmm, a sandwich feels much more appealing now that the power is out and I don’t feel like taking the stairs. It wont be back for another 3 hours, which happens on a daily basis. What a beautiful mess this place is, I say to myself. I walk to the kitchen and see my grandma already making me a sandwich, letting me know who is coming over today and asking me if I had any laundry to give her, as well as a number of other matters that I can’t recall because I was too busy thinking how much I love being here, in this place, right now, with her.”

That was a mere glimpse of a typical morning in Beirut at my grandmother’s house, where I spend most of my summers. Sometimes, it’s the little things that connect you to a certain place, to certain people, and make you feel loved and cherished. I haven’t been there in almost two years because of my summer classes but I intend on going back very soon.

Do you have a simple memory that connects you to a place or person (or both)? I would love to hear it!

Bisous

-SH