The Honeymoon Phase

“Culture shock is the emotional and sometimes even physical discomfort people feel when they have to leave everything familiar behind and have to find their way in a new culture that has a different way of life and a different mindset.” 1

It’s been two weeks since I arrived here. Overall, the experience has been wonderful. Or could it be that I’m just happy and excited because I’m still in the honeymoon phase? Anthropologist Kalervo Oberg, says there are four stages in culture shock: Honeymoon, Crisis, Adjustment/Recovery and Adaptation. A new way of life in a new city with new people speaking a different language… it couldn’t be all that easy, right?

I have forgotten how it feels like to be a student again but I wasn’t surprised that this is going to be hard work. During the first week of school, we spent at least 8 hours each day learning about the essentials of leadership, cultural differences and intercultural communication. Very timely and very valuable topics for wannabe multicultural project managers. Now, I need to get used to having one week of rigorous classes every month and I must start praying that an appropriate internship opportunity will present itself soon.

In our class of 38 students, only three of us are non-French speakers. Lucky for me, the medium of instruction is English. But it’s not enough that I know how to buy a train ticket or groceries with the little French that I know. I must get better sooner. I should begin reading the cheap second-hand books I bought in French (with my favorite Le Petit Prince included) and regularly meet classmates who are willing to teach me and learn with me.

I can say that the best part of my stay here are the people I have met so far. The people living with me, my classmates, my friends and fellow Filipinos – they have been very warm and helpful in every step of the way. While we have fundamental differences in race and language, it is not so hard to see that we share the most basic human values necessary to co-exist peacefully.

With this optimism, there is no doubt that I’m in the first phase of culture shock. More challenges are yet to come but nothing will get in the way of this honeymoon because I want to enjoy it while it lasts.

1 Source:


Disturb us, Lord

Disturb us, Lord, when
We are too well pleased with ourselves,
When our dreams have come true
Because we have dreamed too little,
When we arrived safely
Because we sailed too close to the shore.

Disturb us, Lord, when
With the abundance of things we possess
We have lost our thirst
For the waters of life;
Having fallen in love with life,
We have ceased to dream of eternity
And in our efforts to build a new earth,
We have allowed our vision
Of the new Heaven to dim.

Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly,
To venture on wider seas
Where storms will show your mastery;
Where losing sight of land,
We shall find the stars.

We ask You to push back
The horizons of our hopes;
And to push into the future
In strength, courage, hope, and love.

By Sir Francis Drake

P.S. I heard this prayer today at the PICC Feast. The words are just too close to the heart. It is a prayer that will lift my spirit up whenever I am sad. It will be a constant reminder of why I’m pursuing my dream and how blessed I am to be living it. 

Au revoir, Joey

May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss (french? 😉 *wink, wink*) someone who thinks you’re wonderful, and don’t forget to make some art – write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself.

I hope you will have a wonderful year, that you’ll dream dangerously and outrageously…

– Neil Gaiman (& us =p) >:D<

To my HP and ex-HP (aka Chevron) friends (you know who you are), a big thank you for compiling our photos through the years and for your heartwarming messages in the scrapbook. I’m very grateful to have you as my friends.