Category Archives: lectures/workshops

Home sick and getting used

Culture shock part 2, disintegration stage

Today I was late, got lost, stuck in traffic, food burned and the children got grumpy too, instead of a bit understanding and compassionate. 
I learned that there is a bridge which opens every hour and rush hour starts at 5 pm, my oven is a hot air oven which is hotter than I expected.
It was one of those days, nothing – even the simplest of things- worked out as planned and expected.
“I want to go home, I want to go back, where life was not so complicate and I got the feeling life run more smooth; Where I knew how to use the oven, where I knew where and how to avoid traffic, where my children were at ease.
I can’t go back – I know-, but still I’m temporarily homesick.

The first half-year after a (international) move seems to be one concatenation of those days in which nothing seems to work like you’re used to, there’s nothing you can do without thinking and every single little core seems to cost a lot of energy. Specially when you’ve got a family to organise and look after! Don’t be surprised if you’re tired a lot and got less energy, it will take about a year.
Not everyone does understand what you’re going through and why you seem to get upset about small things. People who moved (internationally) and know what a culture shock is will recognise this, they know it’s not the big problems but it’s the amount of daily little struggles.
This struggle makes you want to go ‘home’.

In culture shock terms, we call this the disintegration stage. Lost the ‘old’ ways, lost routines and not found new routines yet.
The days you feel completely lost will become less as you get used to the way things are organised and find new routines.

In time I will get used to the oven, in fact it’s much easier when it cooks faster and more constant; I already know that I should avoid that bridge and found some short cuts.
I know I will get used to my new environment and even will appreciate the way things go here. But I’m not there yet.img_0116


Culture Shock. part 1

I can’t deny it anymore. Within 10 days we move out of Qatar to the Netherlands. 
We’re in transition mode;
The household is being divided in; what’s going to ‘suit case’, ‘freight container’ and ‘what to be sold’; The heart is out of the house, it’s not a home anymore;
Everybody is agitated and sad.
And we have to bid our farewells to people whom we know we’re not going to see anymore.

The transition stage is the first stage of a culture shock.
Culture shock is the anxiety and emotional stress when your physical surrounding and people change; When you come to live and/or work in different circumstances as what was considered normal, felt familiar and comfortable. 
It’s a process of change in your identity; process of letting go old values, expectations, behaviour and thinking patterns and adopting new ones.

Transition/detachment stage; 
The transition and detachment starts in the current country, when the decision to move becomes a reality and you’ve to start planning and thinking ahead; It’s the start of ‘letting go’ and saying farewells. You come to realise what you’ve got and what you have to let go.
For most people it’s a time of strong mixed feelings; Excitement (positive and negative) of the new adventures ahead and the grief of letting go.

For me, this time, this transition, I miss the excitement of a new adventure as we’re going to our home country. I know what to expect and not to expect.
Yet I already know I will have a difficult time to adjust again because it won’t be the same as I’ve got a lot of expectations and I’ve changed too. 
I do not have the curiosity and flexibility in my mindset to accept my new surroundings in the way they are now as they won’t be the way the were when I left.

I’ll miss the people, the friends, the community we belong to.
I’ll miss Qatar’ I love living in a country which grows and see changes for the better; 
I’ll miss the weather, the warmth and the sun. 
I’ll miss my freedom.

culture: shopping a la Arabia


The first year when I arrived in Qatar, I’ve been desperately looking for shops which offers something different then the ‘Highstreet’- and ‘mall’ shops as H&M, Zara, Mango, Topshoe, etc..
Here, you can’t google for something you want, because those little shops do not have websites. If they do have got a website they usualy don’t give information about what they sell or service they provide, because that may changes per customer and situation and availability. “Inshallah”
The way to find your ‘little’ or ‘big’ treasures are by mouth to mouth; connecting with other people and ask. 
As a very independent (and maybe a bit shy) western woman it took a while before I got that.

After 4 years I got it and I started to love it.
Besides the malls there are streets with shops. I say streets with shops and not shopping streets as these are not streets where you go for window shopping and see what kind of shop it is and what they offer. You go to the particular shop which might offer what you need and who’s owner is family or friend of your family or friend.
As these shops run because of the mouth to mouth advertisement and relations, they do not have the need to look welcoming or nice, they even look pretty ricket and dirty. 
The salesman doesn’t need to be particular friendly when he got his target of the day or you dirturb him in his in between midday sleep.
But then when you found them and got there in the right time, there are people inside who are craftsmen, people who know what they’re talking about; Taylors who know the human body; know how certain fabric will fold and what need to be done to fit. The gold and silver smiths who knows about the different gems, gold and silver and how it holds and can make every design you wish for. The carpenters and upholstery guys….. 
You can almost get whatever you want the way you want.

To purchase is an event on it’s own. Try not to be in a hurry, you’ll miss out of the event. As a lady you’ll have to sit before the counter and you get a water offered. You talk about mutural family, friends and the country you come from and if you visited their country. After a while, depending on how busy and the mood, you start talking business.

Then in the end the bargaining. 
Bargaining is NOT only about getting the best price (= cheapest) it’s also about how you value your purchase and what you are willing to grant the salesman. For the salesmen it’s not only about the money (although it’s very important and even more important when doing business with a white) but it’s also very important for the salesman how you value him and his business. That’s the most difficult part for me and I do prefer set prices. On the other hand now I’m used to it. It’s a good way to show someone if you feel not served appropriate (feedback) and when I pay more, I know it’s the most direct form of humanitarian aid.

As a westerner I’m used that when people say it’s ready -then an then- it will be ready. Most of the time it isn’t because there are always others, who are in a hurry and need priortiy. You’ll go wrong one or two times, then you start calling and then after 4 years you play the dramatic part, of how much in a hurry you are too, and sometimes it can be ready on the spot, instead of a week!

The whole experience is more a way of purchasing something you want then the quick buying and spending money to big brands.
 Now I know I have to take my time, I prefer this way of shopping better then go into the big stores where the ‘salespeople’ are the youngest and the cheapest, bored people who have no clue or interest in what they sell how they sell aslong as it’s in the procedures.

Enjoy shopping!IFGAblogperson

origins habits, traditions and rituals mini lecture

It’s that time of the year, that almost everywhere in the world a lot of festivities and traditions are being celebrated; Diwali, haloween/st. Martin/all souls day, Thanks giving, Sinterklaas, Christmas, Chanouka, new years eve/silvester/chinese new year, National days. Just to name a view.
A lot of these traditions do have it’s origins from long before the great religions.

Imagine, It’s 5000 years ago, it’s winter on the nothern hemisphere;(which does have the largest human settlement, -historicaly-. The southern hemisphere exists more out of water); It’s dark and it’s cold, no farming, gathering or hunting is possible; The weather can be scary; with mist, darkness, cold, snow; People stay together for warmth and safety. There’s time for stories, rituals and/or handicraft.

People were (and often are) afraid of the dark; nothing grows, you can’t see predators, you can’t see were you’re going, you can get lost. 

5000 years ago they didn’t had the knowledge that the sun, the light and the warmth would come back automatically as the worlds rotating. 
To cope with the fear, they thought of all kind off reasons and rituals to scare the dark away or attrack the sun again. 
Many of those rituals used light (= fire), to attrack the sun and/or make lots of noise/sing to scare the darkness away. Many of those rituals and ceremonies were hand over from generation to generation and became traditions. Think the bonfires, laterns, christmas lights, christmas crackers, fireworks, and traditional music and/or songs.

Multicultural wise it’s interesting to see how the same tradition developed in different rituals for everybody all around the world. Think about the darkness during winter. 
and how the same tradition/occasion (like christmas or ramadan) is been celebrated differently everywhere
. I can tell from experience that the christian celebrations of christmas in america is completely different then in the Philippines. Rituals concerning the christmas tree are depending on the availability of pine trees.IFGAblogperson

For everybody who’s celebrating.


Why laughing is good for you; mini lecture laughing and smiling

Smiling and laughing part 1

Last week I had not much to smile about, so today, let’s talk about something possitive like laughing and smiling.
There’s so much to say about simple laughing and smiling, I don’t know where to start.

I want to be surrounded by people who feel good and happy, it gives me energy and a positive feeling.
But ‘How do I know people are happy?’, -> ‘Because they smile or look content’. At least that is how I think how people show that they are happy/content and enjoy themselves, that they’ ve fun.

Technically smiling is pulling a face; ‘A tensioning of the muscles around the corners of the mouth, the mouth ends curl up ang sometimes opens.
You can define a lot of different laughs; a smile, a grinn, a giggle, a chuckle, a snicker, howl of laughter.
These different laughs can be categorized in two sorts of laughter;
– The burst out-, loud-, spontaneous-, belly laugh, a laugh from the heart,
– And the social laugh.

Today I’ll focus on the physical part of laughing.
Spontaneous laughter is the same for everybody in the world. The reasons for this laughter are not so obvious (but that’s for later, otherwise I should write a book and not a short blog).

Babies laugh before they can talk and children laugh more times a day then adults do.

A good laugh is very healthy, specially the deep, spontaeous, ‘belly laugh’; It changes the breathing pattern and the intake of oxygen for a while. 
During laughing you’ll enter more oxygen and exit more carbon dioxide from the lungs.

You can try it yourself; Feel how you work your longs and belly breathing when you say 10 times HA, HA. If you try to bring hte bresthing in more towards the chest, it becomes more a HI HI.

Laughing stimulates multiple functions in your body, like; Heart rate and Blood pressure.

Laughing reduces stress and pain (with all it’s negative effects) because the production of the Feel Good hormon endoformine and reduces the stess hormon cortisol.
In English people say that a laugh or smile enlightens your face, but it also enlightens your brain (pre frontal cortex in front of your brain) because of the endoformine.
When you see something beautiful, -funny, or something good happens or you enjoy a situation you will smile which will produces endoformin which makes you feel good. But the other way around it works too, when you smile -even if you’re not happy- you’re body will produce endormine and it will make you feel good, relaxes or enlightens your spirit.

Put a pencil horizontal in your mouth and be aware what happens with your face and brain

It might not change the mood you’re in but at least a bit how you feel about it.

Last but not least in this mini lecture about laughing.
People who are relaxed process information (=learn) easier.
And very important, you can’t be relaxed and angry at the same time.

KEEP ON SMILING IFGAblogperson.jpg

To be continued