I've undergone transcontinental relocation enough times to know better, but I honestly thought this time would be different.
This time, I was in my twenties – old enough to cope; not like when I was a child, trying to grow up at the same time as adjusting to new places.
This time, I was moving to from the UK to the US – a paltry cultural difference. Was I not a connoisseur of American TV/movies/internets? Had I not lived from the ages of one to seven in Alabama? Surely I was entirely prepared for all aspects of life in the States.
This time, the decision was wholly mine – not dictated by my parents (whose choices, admittedly, I don't recall ever objecting to, and sometimes actively encouraged). I'd never wanted anything more than I wanted to move 5000 miles west and take my rightful place as a grad student in ~California~.
And, of course, it really did seem that way at first. I instantly felt as though I fit in. School was everything I hoped it would be. New friends were abundant and wonderful. The weather was gorgeous. For about three months, it was like being ever so slightly drunk all the damn time.
For the past three months, though, it's been more like being ever so slightly hungover all the damn time. This is literally textbook culture shock, and it's really stupid that I wasn't prepared for it. I just... thought it would be different.
I thought it would be easy, because I was comparing it to the last transcontinental upheaval. That was when we moved from Kenya to Scotland, which is a hell of a cultural transition. That was when I was thirteen, which is a hell of an age. In comparison, this move should have been a cakewalk.
I thought it would be easy, because I imagined that I would be used to this by now. I am a third culture kid. Wanderlust runs in my veins. I crave new places. Not for me the desire to be settled. Not for me the need to feel from somewhere. Not for me the constant belittling comparisons of the new place with the vastly superior place where I last lived. Me, I positively revel in the fact that everywhere on Earth I am a stranger in a strange land. You can't feel homesick if nowhere is home.
I thought it would be easy. I was wrong.