Q's on Adjusting for those that moved to VI
Questions for the peanut gallery...
Preface: I've moved several times as an adult in my life, and I'm no spring chicken (more like mid-summer). Every place has been an adjustment (they say "a year" and I would agree).
How long did it take you to 'adjust' to being on island away from friends/family/familiarity?
What helped you the most to feel like you were no longer the newbie?
And if you have moved before, you know there is sometimes a "gnawing feeling" of being away from family members. Does the extra off-shore distance IN YOUR HEAD make that gnawing feeling stronger?
And to those of you with grown children who are not on island with you, how do you deal with that separation as a parent?
It didn't take me long to adjust at all & that was long before internet, cell phones, etc. that make it much easier to keep in touch. I was too busy working my fanny off.
I got involved with groups I had an interest in, for one thing. Met a lot of people through work & helping with volunteer work gets you included quickly. I always went my own way so I wasn't "attached" at the hip to my family.
A few visits from them were enough to make me enjoy not being around them all the time. Just a different lifestyle than they had. Never had a gnawing feeling.
Neil, I don't know that I ever adjusted to being away from the relatives even though we had quite a bit of family come and see us. I didn't find the "offshore factor" to be that great, I'd just never been outside close driving distance of my very random family, which I thought I would be glad to leave behind - and I was wrong. They may be nuts, but they are my nuts.
Finding friends, one special friend, helped me feel a little more acclimated and grounded...and I think if I'd found him sooner maybe I could have held on in my mind a little longer provided my husband didn't keel over of a heart attack from the workload.
The grown kids kept coming "home" on my nickel (of course).....but as the oldest one graduated from law school and started into practice and his brother finally got a clue on being a grown up I found I missed them more and more. There was something strange about it - I expect them to move away from ME, but when they started dating "the one" (who wasn't), I found I wanted to be a part of that chapter in their lives. It felt funny that mom was the one who moved and the kids stayed put - and they are long grown, but they missed having their mom and stepdad around too. The long and the short? I didn't deal with that well at all....at ALL. If I'd had grandkids I really would have been distraught. I'm much more peaceful knowing I can get to my kids fairly quickly now, no matter what. I guess they're always your kids.
Is travel time to connect the factor, or does being 'off shore' create an additional layer of anxiety?
I think adjustment is a very individual matter. Ric and i adjusted rather quickly, but we have each other. It is much easier if you have a permanent, built in support system. And another income doesn't hurt either.
To answer your innocent question - returning to where we lived on the mainland was a LONG trip with multiple layovers in cities that run notoriously slow on their air schedule. It didn't help things any, that's for sure....what showed to be a 9 hour trip frequently turned into 13 or 14, or you got stuck in Chicago (or maybe that was Peoria) or San Juan, completely at the mercy of the airline while your luggage went on vacation to San Francisco. I personally find traveling very stressful anyway - and knowing I was giving 2 full days minimum to a round trip was just .... ick. Not to mention that if you didn't remember to get smaller sizes of toothpaste or perfume, it was going in the trash at security stateside - nothing like watching that $100 bottle of perfume that is a half-ounce over the limit go away while you're standing barefoot in a line of one being scanned like you're radioactive or something. Leaving St. Croix wasn't so bad - the airport isn't as rigid there - but coming back was always something to dread simply with regard to travel time. It's probably not as intense if you are coming out of a major hub - but flying out of a regional airport just sucks sometimes. On innumerable trips our luggage went one way and we went the other - stateside it's not so bad, the airlines will bring your luggage to you - on St. Croix, they just tell you to come back in 2 hours....if it's not there, another 2 hours...and so on and so on until it either arrived or you forgot what was in it and quit caring. I still have a bag missing. It made it to San Juan and then apparently self destructed....it's never been seen or heard from again.
Hello there. I just want to answer the question as honestly as I can. Yes, I do miss a few folks, however I moved here for health reasons as well as other 'late summer' life stuff. I have been here almost two years and have found that my neighbors, store clerks, most folks pretty much have embraced me and I feel more a part of the island than anywhere else. My elderly parents do visit, so that edge is gone. Five days into their visit, there is no edge at all. I remember why I have a distant relationship with family. Oh, well.
I do think that if you have lived in another country or two, and have done well, that is a pretty good indicator of how you will do in the USVI. I have lived both in Mexico and Canada, and found that I really didn't miss much, and the price of having power outages daily is just a minor inconvenience. Then again, I don't watch TV.
I will probably be hated for this, but I told you I would be honest. I did have more difficulty with people who moved here than with the Crucian people. There was the old hierachical system with some folks that I suppose was brought from the stateside. I despise that, so there was a problem. I have found with the local people that there is less of a social tier system based on money. Just my two cents, and of course, this is not a global thing, jut a note about acceptance and being a newbie vs feeling alienated. I have met some folks that have been pretty vocal about my living by choice in a Crucian neighborhood. Well, they don't have to, and I did do it by choice, so they can go.............(fill in the blank).
I hope these rambling thoughts give you some idea of at least one person's experience in the past 22 months. If you have any specific question rather than one that is truly based on you, and how you will react to being away, please just send me a PM and I will give you a well thought out answer.
Best wishes with this struggle, and great question for a potential mover,
I'm still adjusting and am still a newbie. It's been five years.
Let me add that I do not feel "embraced" by the long-time islanders. I feel accepted on good day and tolerated on bad. But that's fine. I tend to be a little shy and reserved myself, so I understand people taking a while to warm up to me. I felt the "testing" period at work was longer than I am used to. But the people who have lived here for a long time are used to continentials coming and not staying. They don't invest in you until you've been here for a while.
Oh yes, Adjusting. I think it comes in waves; little by little. First the driving, then groceries, prices, demographics, litter, on and on. Soon you dont notice the differences as much. Ive been here 1 1/2 years, and now fell pretty OK about island living. I even find it kinda charming that chickens run around my feet while eating out. Still I miss home, family and friends...many other things. Ive had many ups and downs and plenty of regrets; alot of adjusting. However, all in all Ive been coming into a nice peaceful existence here.
Then, I got sick the other day. Oh yes the next wave of adjusting. I felt very far away from home. No details needed. I point it out just to say that as different life challenges occur you will have a new adjustment to make.
Preparation and expectations are the determining factor.
I should say though that on any good day you are still subject to getting "cruzaned".
Cruzaned (verb) when the day has been going great and everything has been going as planned then all of a sudden a perfectly nice time is ruined due to some unexpected needless disappointment through no fault of your own. Meant for STX but may be used for the same phenomenon experienced on other islands.
Moral: I dont think youll ever completly adjust.
My wife and I have a bit of experience living overseas and adjusting to new places and cultures. We have always found that adjusting after a move comes in sort of three stages without any definable time limits because the stages are based on the individual. If you were to draw it the adjustment period would look like a rising peak, followed by a valley, and then leveling off to a coastal plain.
More specifically, the first stage is the honeymoon period, which is characterized by an irrational love of everything (both good and bad) that your new location has to offer. For example, the beaches are unreal, the folks here sure do drive crazy but that’s ok I’ll wear my seatbelt, or my favorite – you mean you don’t have any raisin bran in stock without bugs, boy that’s great I love this place this must be one of those cultural differences I heard about before I moved.
The second stage, which can creep up unnoticed, is a complete one-eighty change from stage one and is quite easy to distinguish because you will now display a very strong disdain and hate for everything your new location has to offer. For example, what do you mean you can’t fix my electric for two weeks!!!? Or, if I have to wait five hours to pay my phone bill again today I just might go insane and start banging my head against the wall to kill the time. And the favorite, you don’t have any raisin bran in stock without bugs? I truly hate this place why on earth did I move here.
The third stage is the leveling off period where you find a balance between stages one and two. You will know you’re in the third and final stage when, driving to the store to get the now ubiquitous raisin bran a cement truck coming in the other direction tries to kill you by running you off the road and you begin to shout expletives and lose your temper but then you remember…after you stop at the store you’re going to the beach while friends that you talked to just that morning were digging out from another foot of snow and suddenly you realize that life’s not that bad after all.
Of course, the times vary greatly above depending on the individual…Keep a positive attitude and a sense of humor and you will be fine if you move.
I was "cruzaned" twice yesterday and I live in upstate NY!!!! Your definition describes EXACTLY what happened to me - so it's pretty much a universal thing.
Very funny post, Palmetto! And very true - especially the part about the adjustment time varying. I've seen people who got on island and were home and made it through all the stages in 30 days - and I've seen those there who have been there 20 years and are still waffling between 2 and 3....excellent points.
And watch those concrete trucks....nasty, nasty....SPLAT!
Oh, how I yearn for stage 3.
I have a question for those familiar with the stages in Palmetto's post:
If you are waffling between stage 2 and 3, how long should you stick it out? I think I would die if I woke up and it's been 20 years of stage 2.
Palmetto: EXCELLENT summary! Let's call it the Palmetto Score.
I've been on STT for 13 months. My Palmetto Score is 2.5 (chronic wavering between 2 and 3).
Let's hear from the rest of you-- time on island and Palmetto Score.
Our Palmetto score was 2.5 for couple of years and then inexplicably went down to a 2...we stuck a 2 out for about 3 years and and then called it bananas and moved "back" stateside. I guess we were hoping that it would go back at least to the 2.5 wavering.
I have seen both examples you describe..the 30 day stage 3'ers and the 20 yr stage 2's. C'est la vie
When I moved to island (2004), I completely missed the honeymoon period. I have three kids and I hit the ground running trying to figure out food, transportation, schooling, job, living without air conditioning, living with bugs, etc. I was overwhelmed with the difficulties right away. After 3 months and a visit back home at Christmas, I snapped out of it and was in stage 3 for about a year. With a series of bad luck events, I slipped back into 2 and stayed there until we moved off island which was 9 months later. We lived on island (STT) for exactly 2 years.
My husband's story was a little different. He moved down 3 months before we did to get things in order. He found a house, transportation was provided by his work, and he found enough groceries to live on by himself. He was probably in the honeymoon period for the first month and then missing his family slipped into stage 2 until we moved down. We were all in stage 2 together and into stage 3 at the same time. He and I slipped into stage 2 at different times. I before him. It wasn't until a close friend left island that he felt stage 2. We realized how much it takes to make things go well on island. It definitely takes having a support system of friends, family, and coworkers.
I have lived off island now for almost a year. I have not been back to visit yet and want too, but only as a vacationer. I have no desire to live on island again. It was a great learning experience, but like all learning experiences, you wished you could have learned the lesson without the cost. We had a job opportunity in Hawaii. I have always wanted to live in Hawaii (who doesn't), but turned it down. We like living in comfort and having the money to vacation where we want and go when we want. I have often said that if we had enough money to live well on islands that we would buy a home there, but still we wouldn't live there full time nor most of the time. That is my story in a nutshell described by the Palmetto system. Happy stage 3 to all!!!
Nice job coining the term "Palmetto Score!" It's funny because the response I gave to Neil's original question about, “adjusting to living on island” was based on a post I had already written and planned to post on my blog http://www.mytropicalescape sometime next week because we get the question all the time. If people here find it helpful I might just post it there later today.
I think moving from stage two to stage three requires a particular perspective.
You've admitted in past posts that "material things" matter to you. As long as you feel deprived by the lack of high fashion, fine international dining, Broadway caliber performances and the like, I think you will be less than entirely happy here. I think those who move easiest to stage three don't require much in the way of external things to satisfy them.
Another factor is how one deals with challenges. If one is frustrated by the wrongness of how things are done here then one will be less than entirely happy here (I'm using "one" because I don't want to suggest this is a problem for you) because assessing situations in terms of rightness and wrongness makes it impossible to leave stage two. If one can find amusement in what others find annoying about day-to-day living here one can slip into stage three.
Lastly, I think those who have experienced substantial suffering have an easier time moving from stage two to three because little things never again take on a life of their own and usurp one's sense of what's really important in life.
Again, this is just my opinion and not intended to suggest anything about Onika or anyone else!
Oddly enough, although I do appreciate heavy cultural calendars and an impressive organic food selection, it is not the lack of material selection that has tripped me up on my transition from 2 to 3.
It is, as you call it, the inability to deal with the "wrongness" of how things are done. My breakdowns come when I deal with Banco Popular's Customer DisService Dept. or the checkers at KMART who invariably assist their friends first and scowl when they assist me DESPITE my uttering the magic words (Good morning!) or the.... fill in the blank for the "wrongness" issue du jour.
Clearly, my perspective of wrongness has been fashioned by my time in NY and Seattle so those raised with a different sense of fairness, cust. serv., etc. may see it differently.
What really scares me now is that I recently spoke with someone who has been here for YEARS and she STILL kvetched about the lack of customer service and how diffifcult it was to live here. I don't want to be here whining that whole time--that's passive-aggressive and contrary to my personality. That said, anyone know how to transport a house to NYC? Haha. If only.
BTW, I think we have some great fine dining on-island! Although a Thai restauarant would be welcome.
What do you call it when you visit the island for the first time, and think that is where you want to be?
We have been there 7 times in the last 2 1/2 years, and are now finding the following:
I have lived in AZ for 60 years and never thought I would want to live anywhere else. Now I find everything here annoying. The Weather, traffic, illegals, crowds, news, gas prices, smog, and etc.
I am always comparing it to STX, and STX wins out. I sometimes think I am crazy, because I knowm that STX has it's own problems, but I didn't see the problems here as problems before our first visit. I was in level three.
Sometimes I think we are crazy for wanting to sell our house ( not right away, we will split our time ) which is paid for, and leave what I consider to be a almost perfect life.
I wanted to add that I am trying to incorporate things on the island that make me happy. Didn't want to come off as a person whose only focus is trashing the island and its people. BTW, did everyone know you can just join a steel pan group? No prior experience and lessons required...they teach you as they play. Very cool.
Onika, I would have LOVED that...I hope you posted on the residents forum....I'm so uncoordinated I doubt they could teach me, but I just thought that would have been the neatest thing to learn.
I find that if someone sucks their teeth at me it has the same effect as fingernails running down a chalkboard and I immediately descend into the depths of stage 2.
However, I did just get off the phone with my wife who is up in the states and she literally got lost in an IKEA store (that to me is true torture) this morning and she could NOT get out. After wandering around aimlessly, an employee finally took pity and let her out an "employee only" side door.