Adapting to new cultures


My sister-in-law moved to a state half-way across the country. Another friends blog I just read talked about adapting finally after five years. Another friend tells me of the difficulty of adjusting to life in a new community years ago.
And I think of my own situation of moving out of Lancaster to the city of Philadelphia and how it really was never that difficult for me. And I thought maybe the difference is that I’m only an hour and a quarter from home. Could have a lot to do with it. It might be a difference in personallities. Could have a lot to do with it. But maybe it’s simply the culture of the church I moved to. Could have VERY MUCH to do with it. See the church I moved to, is a constantly changing church. As in, the members come and go. People move to Philly to serve a year, maybe two, at the mission. And then they move back to wherever they came from. Oh, some stay around and establish themselves here in the city (and alot have done that lately), but we are used to having new people at our church all the time. So for quite some time, we all felt new (I still do sometimes). Granted, now that a few people have decided to stick around, we have more of a core group of church people vs the constantly changing. And I wonder if the longer we become established, the harder it will be for new mission staff to “fit in” to the culture we create. At this point we all come from different backgrounds, there is no normal, set way to be – fewer expectations.

Now the city culture – that’s an entirely different subject all together.  There are parts of the city culture I never want to adapt too.  Like the part where we stay up all night and have fights at the bar around the corner.  Or the part where we let our kids roam the streets, or the part where we don’t work and we sell drugs to make a living, or the part where seeing a couple walk down the street holding hands is so unusually we all gawk, or the part where we litter and don’t care about the fact that it makes our world ugly and we expect someone else to clean up after us, or the part where we don’t get married, we just make babies and then if we’re the man, we dash off after a couple years or months even.

Yes, I sometimes get tired of that part of the culture.  We went to a coffee shop in an area of town that was more the “culture” we’re used to.  I left feeling so refreshed.  We saw families walking down the streets together (no kids off by themselves even though it was a much safer neighborhood).  And I wondered why we didn’t move to this neighborhood.  And then I remembered, that we didn’t move here to feel complacent and happy and safe and surrounded by a world we love.  We moved here cause we felt called to bring Jesus to the neighborhood.  Could we bring Jesus to the neighborhood in the more refined community?  Absolutely.  Will we move to that neighborhood someday?  Hopefully Maybe.  Are we in the neighborhood where God wants us to be right now?  I believe so.

All that being said, there are things I really like about the city culture as well.  The part where I can walk to the corner store (or the chinese store) in two minutes.  The part where we can survive with one vehicle (cheaper insurance, car maintenance, etc) due to public transit and bikes.  The part where I can walk to the grocery store.  The part where I can sit on my step and find plenty of people to talk to.  The part that, even though we grew up so different, we as neighbors look out for each other and respect each other.  The part where the disc golf place is right around the corner.  The part that there are all kinds of beautiful parks to bike or walk so close by.  And I’ve adapted to the part of the culture where when someone blows their car horn out front to pick you up, you walk to the door, raise your “just a minute” finger,and then take five or ten.  :)  Yep, I’ve got that part of the culture down pat.  The “just a minute” finger can buy you lots of time.

And the things I miss about the previous culture of living on a farm. . .  I think the things I missed can be summed up in one word – SPACE.  I miss it sometimes.

I love cultures, yes I do.  I value diverse experiences, and experiencing other cultures allows me to experience diversity.  And I’m looking forward to experiencing  the Texas culture a bit more, when we relocate for five weeks later this year.  I know, I won’t get the full experience in fives short weeks, but I imagine I’ll have a much clearer picture then I have now.

The most important thing is that this man is by my side as I experience the world.

P.S.  I think it’d be fun to live in a cabin in a woods some day, also.  I’ve got a lot of livin’ to do.



  1. Jolynn  •  Sep 9, 2011 @7:57 pm

    Excited to be able to share in some of that ‘livin’! Love ya, Lucy!

  2. Christine  •  Sep 12, 2011 @2:20 am

    Hey I know that cabin in another distant culture! :) Have a great week!

  3. Lucy  •  Sep 26, 2011 @1:12 am

    Yep, Christine. I guess you would. :)

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