New in town

This is not a song nor a tv show title. It’s about anyone who is new in town. Being new in town is an experience I have been through myself several times in my life so far. It is an experience that is different each time I go through it. It is unique, tough, fun, frustrating, enriching, nostalgia-provoking, re-energizing, and more of a mix of many good and less good things.

I think the best way to describe the experience is by comparing it to pushing the restart button of your PC. A scenario most of the people have experienced. Imagine being busy working on something on your PC and suddenly the PC is not responding. Pushing the restart button and waiting for the PC to restart is frustrating, time-consuming and in many cases results in losing some of the progress made in what we have been doing before the restart. The good news is that the PC usually gets back to working normally and we can carry on our work. In life, pushing the restart button can happen to many people and in many different situations other than moving and living in a new town. I think the experience tends always to start with a mix of many good and less good things before settling back to normal every time it happens.

As I mentioned earlier, the experience is unique because it depends on so many things especially the way we see it and feel about it. Maybe because I am an engineer, I think about the experience of being new town as a process that usually starts with adaptation and then goes into integration. The outcome of the integration usually decides if new town becomes home and there is no difference between ourselves and the society we live in or another click on the restart button would be needed.

I think adaptation starts from the first minute we move to a new area, town, city, or country. It is an act of observing the new surrounding (people, location, language, culture) carefully in order to gain information about the new host society and to make terms with it. It is like planting the seeds and seeing whether it will grow into something or not. After gaining enough knowledge about the new host society and acquiring more traits of it, we get into the integration phase of the process of being new in town. Integration usually starts when we start functioning within the new society, establish relatively robust relationships with people of the host society and take part in diverse aspects of its life. It is like the state when the PC starts working normally after pushing the restart button although that doesn’t mean the possibility of another restart is fully eliminated.

Going through this process several times in my life has taught me to let go of my expectations, hold a grip on the possibilities, come to terms with a language that might be very different, and values and behaviors that might not always correspond to my own, and both learn from and accept such differences while not abandoning my own.

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