I've been here in Nyahururu for two years now and sometimes I still get the question of how I dealt with the culture shock. My answer is usually: Sorry, but I didn't encounter that one yet. Now I've found out how a culture shock expresses itself and read things like "Adaptation to the unknown", "Feelings of insecurity" or "Orientation systems". Doesn't that sound like Stargardt?
Of course, personality and character play a role - and certainly also the type of reception in a foreign country. But I see clear parallels to situations in which a Stargardtien finds herself/himself again and again, whether at home or abroad.
I am always ready for the unknown: Be it a new construction barrier on the way to my bus stop in Switzerland or the new water-filled pothole in Kenya. Sometimes I run into it, sometimes I can just avoid it.
I often cannot fully understand what is happening: I'm with a group and suddenly there is great laughter. I try to guess what it's about from the context, but finally, I have to ask. In Switzerland I simply did not see the strange behavior of a passerby on the other side of the street, in Kenya, I am missing a cultural detail, such as why you throw water at birthday children.
I keep wandering around in circles: From the baggage claim area of the Roman airport, I follow the signs to the S-train, only to find myself again at the baggage claim area 10 minutes later. (The second attempt to get to the train station worked, but I have no idea why.) In Kenya, I come out of the big shopping center in Nairobi and start walking towards my accommodation - and find myself 15 minutes later in front of the same exit where I left.
I feel completely left out: I go for a beer with friends and there is football on the TV behind the bar. At some point, the conversation inevitably turns to this topic. I can't contribute anything, I can see neither football nor players, so I've never developed an interest in this sport. Incidentally, this happens equally in Switzerland and in Kenya.
So my thesis is: As a Stargardtien, you are a little immune to culture shocks because your home country is equally full of unknowns, incomprehensible, and surprises. And you learn how to deal with them. As a Stargardtien, the little things are less of a concern because they are often invisible anyway. This also applies to small cultural differences. With Stargardt, you learn to take this more calmly.
This article is part of the series "Stargardt in Africa".