Cozumel Culture Shock
Moving to a foreign country with a different language, culture & lifestyle has it's challenges, to say the least.
We have been living in Cozumel for just over a week now, and will be staying here for the first 3 months of our 8-10 month around the world EPIC adventure!
Choosing to come to Cozumel first was inspired by a few things:
Mom & Dad in Cozumel
- My parents have chosen to call Cozumel home. They have been travelling here for 18 years and have lived here once before. In February of this year they decided to finally come back and live the life they always wanted. Having them here makes the transition a little easier. They know the layout of the island, some of the people and places to go to get groceries and every day things, and most importantly they speak Spanish better than us, but we're learning ;)
- We have been here before and have some familiarity as well. We know that they have some of the comforts that we are used to from home. Even though we are trying to take ourselves out of our comfort zone, it is nice to be able to ease into the transition with something we know a little, before we move on to some place totally foreign.
- Learning to speak Spanish. Coming to Mexico allows us to learn and get an ear for a different language, and next to Italian, I think it is one of the most beautiful languages.
- Such a rich history can be found here in Cozumel as well as on the main land, specifically the Tulum Ruins on the Riviera Maya.
- The people are friendly, hard working and know how to enjoy life and devote time to family and friends. This was particularly important to us coming here. Showing our boys that family and friends are put first above the busy lifestyle we know back home. In Canada we found that we lived for chaos and constantly being busy, running from A to B all the time, as opposed to actually spending time with family and friends and enjoying the slower pace that this Caribbean lifestyle has to offer.
- Being immersed in a different culture played a major role in our decision to come to Mexico. Their celebrations and festivities are amazing, they put on a spectacular show for everything with bright colours, loud upbeat music and happy people everywhere. Cozumel has a particularly great mix of Caribbean and traditional culture which is hard not to love.
Making the Adjustment
Now that you know why we came here, let me tell you about our experience so far. When we came on vacation in April we just started hitting our groove just in time to get back on the plane for home. Now that we have been here for a week, we are starting to find our routine.
The first week was definitely an adjustment with things like the heat, the bugs, and being homesick all playing a role. Things are different here for sure; we seem to have adjusted to the heat, and don't need the AC cranking constantly; the bugs seem to be leaving us alone a little more than in the beginning, but that might be because I bought all the natural bug repellent I could find...lol; and, while the homesickness will probably stick around for a while longer, we are settling in and using technology to our advantage.
Anytime you travel to a new country for an extended period of time I imagine their is not only an adjustment period that needs to happen, but also a culture shock that one goes through. We are going to have this experience a few times throughout this year as we travel to different countries. While this may have been our "easy transition" it may have been a hard place to begin, just due to the language barrier.
For me personally this is the one thing that I struggle with the most. Not being able to communicate with people in the grocery store or in everyday conversations has been an unwelcome challenge.
Another challenge of any move is to reorientate yourself to where things are and who to connect with to find out the right information. We have been lucky enough to have my parents here along with another great family, the Serranos from Idaho, who we met online and now in person, and have embarked upon a similar adventure with their family, but for a much longer time frame of 2 years. Having their support and know how has made our move a little easier. We have learned where to go to buy the best produce, where to go to get a great workout, and the best places to snorkel and chill on the beach.
Cozumel 4 You, a Facebook group we found has also been very useful. We can go on any time and find out great information from locals and ex-pats who have lived here for years.
Finally the last challenge we have to face is trying to make sure we keep ourselves, as well as our boys, in a social setting where we can all interact with others. We have chosen to homeschool the boys which was a decision we have all made together as Mark and I are trying to test the "non traditional" system of educating our boys. This proves to be a difficult task in a familiar setting let alone a setting where you barely know anyone in the first place. We want to make sure they have friends to play with and we have adults to engage with, so that we can decrease our homesickness and not feel isolated.
When planning on coming to Coz we began the socialization process before we came by interacting with people online. As I've already mentioned, we have met a few friends and are grateful to have my parents to help us as well. During other parts of our travel, this may not be the case, like when we travel to Europe. By taking small steps, it will help to lessen the culture shock blow and we know that we will be able to successfully put ourselves out there, leave our comfort zone a bit and become a happy and well adjusted family.
Follow our EPIC adventure on Living Like the McCashes