Blog Post 4: Significant Cultural/Emotional Adjustment
In Slovenia, I have not had too much trouble adjusting to the culture. In fact, the culture is much more similar to America than it is different. However, since this entry does require that I choose a difference, there has been one significant adjustment for me: the existence of very relaxed attitudes.
In American cities, I feel as though people are constantly on the move to do something else for work or for pleasure. On weekends and during the summer, people are more likely to relax; but during the year, time is of the essence and people move to complete as much as they can in one day while retaining some of their sanity. In Slovenia, leisure and relaxation is something that is ingrained in the culture. People sit outside for hours at a time at coffee shops or at restaurants and will have drinks mid-day. There is much less of a sense of urgency to complete other tasks; Slovenians are far more content to relax.
I am a very hard working individual. I often times feel that I embody the ideal of a “workaholic.” The fact that people spend hours of every day on leisure is strange to me; I feel as though I would never have enough time to complete the various tasks of my life if I relaxed for as long as people in Slovenia do. My life in America is very regimented; I am a big fan of my routine. I wake up early, go to school, get my planning and grading done, come home, eat/work out and watch an episode of whatever TV show that I am watching at the time, then probably read a little bit and go to sleep.
In Slovenia, I sometimes feel like that I am lost without my strictly regimented routine. I have much less grading to do, much less planning to do, and my day sometimes ends earlier than it does in the states. I have the entire remainder of the day to do as I please. I have trouble filling up my day at times, because I despise coffee (and therefore do not want to go to coffee shops) and the gym is only open from 7 PM to 10 PM. I can’t make my own food, since we don’t have our own kitchen, and when we go out to eat, I feel as though I take up too much time sitting around at the table.
Don’t get me wrong. This change in attitude has been primarily a welcome change from my last week in America, which was incredibly hectic and stressful (I slept maybe an average of 4.5 hours a night), but there are times that I feel as though my sense of time is having an effect on my ability to enjoy myself.
This has an impact in the classroom, as my more regimented lessons are somewhat unusual for my students. The structure of my lesson (i.e. warm-up, statement of objective, activities, closing) are somewhat unfamiliar to my students. At times, I also struggle with pacing, as classes have certain norms and expectations consistent with the cultural value of leisure. The other day, I had a student take 10 minutes out of class to hand out gifts to other students because he was going to be leaving the school. When I was teaching at Spring Ridge, students were leaving the school all the time, often time without any mention at all of them doing so. Although I feel that the relaxed, leisurely style of conducting lessons at times hurt the students, I believe it has been beneficial in creating a stronger home-school relationship. In addition, the students seem to have less of an affective filter toward completing schoolwork for me.
Although the challenge of “relaxation and leisure” has been a major theme and point of contention on my trip, I have adjusted somewhat and have been able to appreciate my time here. I am still working hard, but am finding the extra leisure time much more to my liking than when I initially had traveled here. I am hopeful that the next time I visit Europe, I will be more prepared for this shift of thinking from being work intensive, to being more relaxed.