Spin the Globe with Justin Butner

A world citizen may provide value to society by using knowledge acquired across cultural contexts.

Australia in Body Only

My body is here in Sydney but I haven’t really clicked my brain over yet. Certainly not in an open minded about my new environment sense. And this causes a strain.

Since I’ve gotten here I have seen exactly 1 tourist thing, and that is entirely because it is used as a landmark at a major intersection. I have spent ample time on the internet, ample time searching for internet access (the internet here is wonky or expensive, and sometimes both), and ample time working on stuff that I didn’t finish while I was home. I was so invested in leaving home that once I got my visa approved I spent all my time working on home things. I interrupted this to get a plane ticket here, and once in Seattle to book a hostel for the first night here. But otherwise I was selling things, cleaning, sorting things, seeing friends, and so on. My time at home was so valuable that I couldn’t waste a minute of it not there physically and mentally.

And so when I arrived here, I wasn’t ready for the shift. And given that there are a few projects from home that I didn’t finish while I was still there, I’ve had plenty to work on here. My time in Australia has seemed to consist of working on unfinished home projects, getting day to day stuff figured out (hostels, cell phones, groceries), and trying to keep myself sane (deep breathing exercises, naps, tv). I don’t want to engage people here and make friendships that I need to put on hold to work on finishing up home things. And so I haven’t made friends. I don’t want to tempt myself with fun options that will blow through my budget in a week, so I haven’t connected to anyone who is going out.

I need to finish up my DC life before I can really be here. And I need to connect to people here before I can start to feel sane. I need to stop sleeping in hostels, or make friends with the people in hostels, or go out drinking so drunk people stumbling in at 4am doesn’t affect me. I need to stay in one place long enough that I can buy  a reasonable amount of groceries so I’m not living off single serving ramen packets. I need comfort. I need sanity. I need a little piece of home, but only a piece. I need to find my zen again. The first day here I was zen and calm about life as it came, but that might have been because I hadn’t slept a reasonable amount in a week and was so delirious from travel that I didn’t have the mental energy to control anything. Okay, that 100% was for that reason. Since then I have been unsettled, uncomfortable, and ill-at-ease. I’ve been so tense that my jaw muscles have started clenching so hard so as to cause blinding jaw pain. This was diagnosed by the dentist I went to see today. He prescribed that I relax. And if that doesn’t work, Vicodin. Something needs to change.

2 comments on “Australia in Body Only

  1. Jonathan K T
    November 18, 2011

    It’s at best a mixed blessing that the internet has made moving abroad less of an obstacle to staying in touch. One reason to move abroad is to forcibly, if temporarily, break ties to your old life, so you can reset your expectations and hopefully allow some new views to enter your mind.

    You haven’t technically been forced to abandon your unfinished business back home, but you should consider acting as though you have. It’s very likely that anything that had to get cut off because you’ve moved to another world is either insufficiently important to be truly worth finishing now, or will still be there when you come back. (When thinking about trying to deal with something, first ask yourself whether, if you had to fly back to the States to get it done, you would do that.)

    Your old friends miss you… but we’re also excited for you, and want this to be for you the best experience that it can. You’re one of the best people I know at making new friends quickly, and it would be a shame to waste that talent because you’re too tied up with the people who’ve been seeing you off for a good portion of the past year… so take a chance and let go. I would bet that once you have some good things going on over there, it will easier to assign things back here their proper importance.

    And take the Vicodin — it might make your first night out a good sight cheaper.

  2. rachel
    November 18, 2011

    what jonathan said!

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This entry was posted on November 17, 2011 by in Australia, NSW (Sydney).

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