Friday, October 24, 2014

The four stages of culture shock

I've been walking a fine line between adaptation to a new life, staying true to myself and comparing everything to my last life. 

My psyche needs to have some familiarity around and if there isn't any, I will make some. For instance when I visit a new place I always tend to find another place that reminds me of it. Why? I am here now, why would it matter what other places remind me of it?
I have been doing something similar setting up my life here. I find myself comparing almost everything to Berlin. On the one hand I find it extremely useless because everything here is nothing like Berlin at all but on the other hand I find it useful because I feel I am not losing myself and my values that I have gained and embraced in the last five years of Berlin. 

I have read that when moving to a new culture, you go through four phases of culture shock. 

Step 1. Honeymoon Stage
Step 2. Frustration Stage
Step 3. Adjustment Stage
Step 4. Acceptance Stage

I can't honestly say where I am at the moment, I would say I flipflop between all 4 during each day! haha. 

Here is an example of all four stages I went through-
It is very common here to eat out. A LOT. Everybody tells me that its cheaper to eat out than to cook at home. 
At first I also ate out a lot more than I have ever in my life, it was exciting, trying out new restaurants and new foods (step 1), but after going out to eat so much, I realised I really miss cooking and knowing what goes into my food and how its made. I got sad and missed my Berlin peeples that I can discuss awesome veggie recipes with (step 2). If you know me, I cook. Every. Single. Day. 
It has been the biggest struggle for me to figure out how to adapt to this new cultural aspect... I started cooking again every day but also found going out a lot more fun and embrace it a lot more now (step... 3, you guessed it). I realised that I am an adult, I can do whatever I want. Pret-ty awesome! This is where I decided to stay true to my values (yep, step 4). I will still cook. Every. Single. Day. With the odd (or more) restaurant visit.

Here are some pointers on cooking at home in Singapore: Buy locally. If you want to cook at home all the time, cook Asian foods (most things are imported in Singapore so the cheapest ingredients will be from the surrounding countries). If you want to treat yourself, go ahead and go to the more expensive grocery stores, there you can find ANYTHING from ANYWHERE but expect to pay a good amount of money for something imported from further away (do not compare the prices to what you would pay for it at home, it will hurt). 
This has been a fun way to explore new dishes and get creative with the ingredients at hand! Yeay to learning.

There are a lot more differences that I am trying to wrap my head around and find my own way, but those are all posts for another day...

Here is a simple dish I've come to love love love and make at least three times a week, if you feel like a taste of Asia, do make this, its delicious :D

Stir-fried Black Rice

1 Cup Cooked Black Rice
2 Cups assorted Veggies (here I used corn, carrots and pees but feel free to use bok choy, mushrooms, chinese spinach)
3/4 Cup Roasted Cashew Nuts
1-2 Eggs (optional)
2 Garlic Cloves, minced
1 tbsp Coconut oil
3 tbsp Soya-sauce
3 tbsp Fish sauce (optional)
1 tbsp Sesame oil
handful fresh coriander (optional)

1. Cook rice as instructed on package (rice from the day before works great as well)
2. Heat coconut oil over medium heat in a wok, add your veggies let it fry for a minute or two
3. add your cooked rice, garlic, soy sauce and fish sauce
4. make a little well in the middle of the wok and crack the eggs in it, let them cook a little before mixing them in with the rest of the rice
5. fry fry fry and fry some more (the longer you let it fry the tastier it gets) about 3-5 minutes, stirring constantly
6. have a taste and see if you need more soya-sauce or fish sauce
7. add cashew nuts, sesame oil and coriander
8. serve and enjoy!

Guten appetit!