Tag Archives: culture shock

Differences & Culture Plus A Wedding

“To love and be loved is to feel the sun from both sides” – David Viscott

Santi(Located at the old airport)

Earlier this month one of my best friends got married to the love of her life. I took a plane to Santiago de los Caballeros (Santiago,) Dominican Republic and watched my friend say I do with so much joy and happiness in her eyes. After 11 years of friendship; after all the wondering as to who would get married first, we saw how terribly wrong we were in thinking I would be the first to walk down the isle in anything other than a bridesmaid dress!

Santi2

Though I am of Dominican descent (from Santa Bárbara de Samaná) I actually haven’t been to the Dominican Republic since I was probably six or seven years old. Needless to say, that as soon as I stepped foot on Dominican ground I experienced serious culture shock.

I could go into this rant about culture and identity; what it felt like to be classified as Dominican-American or how it felt to not be considered Dominican at all but, simply American. However, at the end of the day I know who I am and what I am. So why focus on that?

Instead, I’ll focus on everything that left me in awe like the streets and it’s colors, the liveliness, the heat (love hot weather,) the poverty, the music (that I enjoy so much,) the simplicity, the crazy driving (You won’t ever catch me driving over there!) but most importantly the WEDDING!

Santi3(Santiago de los Caballeros street)

The streets amazed me. There was so much liveliness, it was a raw image of simplicity. Its beauty magnified with the happiness of the people that inhabited the surroundings.

santi4(Santiago de los Caballeros street)

The driving was insane! I think I would suffer from anxiety if I had to drive over there. For starters I hate driving in narrow streets! I think I suffer from claustrophobia when I’m driving because I cringe whenever I drive in super tight streets. So lets imagine me driving in a bunch of narrow streets with close to no traffic lights and huge cars (oh I also hate driving big cars) I would cry! But this is what I appreciate about traveling, coming in contact with all the differences you find in the midst of all that is going on around you. Ultimately, it is what gives your trip meaning and gives you long lasting memories.

Santi5(St.Luis Fortress)

I was only in Santiago for the weekend (Thursday-Sunday.) Therefore, I wasn’t able to explore as much as I wanted too. However, I was able to accompany Mayra (the bride) and her now husband on their pre-wedding photo-shoot which, allowed me to visit a few areas and discover some beautiful locations.

We visited three spots where the amazing photographer was able to capture amazing pictures of the couple:

1. Monumento A Los Heroes De La Restauracion (Monument to the Heroes of the Resurrection)
2. Fortaleza San Luis (St.Luis Fortress)

santi8

Santi

3. Antiguo Aeropuerto (Old airport)

After the photo-shoot while driving back I was able to witness the poverty in the city. It’s always shocking to see so much poverty; it really makes you appreciate everything you have. People visit these tropical islands and sometimes forget that in the midst of such beauty there is a deep sadness and need within.

After the pre-wedding activities and getting to know the city a little better finally, came the day of the wedding. Everyone was super excited for the big day! We had the best make-up artist in the city turn us into celebrities and our hair came out absolutely perfect! I felt gorgeous but most importantly, Mayra looked absolutely stunning!!

The ceremony was beautiful and the reception was spectacular. It’s always breathtaking to see a love story unfold and bloom. From beginning to end the night was magical filled with lots and lots of dancing and laughter; of course can’t forget the Presidente (Dominican beer) lots of that too…the entire weekend actually!

I almost even missed la hora loca (the crazy hour) because of a quick bathroom break! Definitely one of the funnest parts of the wedding. There we celebrated the infamous carnival (Dominican style of course) with los Diablo Cojuelo. It was super cool because she had a photographer taking Polaroid pictures to pass to people as souvenirs (yes, I took one.) It fills my heart with joy that my best friend got the day she deserved and I only wish her many more blessings to come.

santi5.jpg

Thank you Mayra for being a great friend and for the trust you enlisted in me to help make your day one for you to always remember. I couldn’t be more proud of you and I am happy to continue to be a part of your life!

Culture Shock

After almost 3 weeks of being in Belgium, Brussels yesterday is when I get horrible culture shock!

Fountain of confusion

My day started good so since I had some free time after class I decided to go pick up some posters and fliers I needed to go hand out today, Friday, for my internship. I had to get off at the tram stop Montgomery, it was on my way home. I Googled maps the directions and it didn’t seem too far… I was hoping Google maps didn’t screw me over. Well… when I got off at Montgomery I find myself in the biggest circle I have yet to encounter in Belgium. There was a beautiful fountain in the middle! Who knew something so beautiful could be so freaking confusing!! Crossing the streets in that circle was like trying to find yourself out of a maze. I think I made every possible turn in the circle before going the right way because the map I took a picture of  with my iTouch, from Google maps, was not so useful.

I’m finally around the area Google maps directed me too and it turned out NOT to be the right place! I seriously must of asked about 20 people where the street was located and no one knew the answer!! I even called my roommate to look up the address again for me and of course it told her to go where I first ended up.

I became so frustrated because I was 2 minutes away from the place and I couldn’t figure out where it was! I walked all over the area and as the minutes passed I became increasingly angry! New York isn’t even that complicated! I can always find my way around there even if I don’t know where I’m going! Google maps has never disappointed me in New York! This nice lady ended up helping me by using her phone to direct me because of course she had no idea where the place was either.

She directed me the right way and when I realized what street the office was located on and that the office was closed I seriously just started

The impossible street to find

crying in the middle of the street! I was sooo frustrated and angry at the situation!

The hidden street!

1. The street was literally hidden and the sign with the name of the street wasn’t visible till you made this small turn! 2. I was so mad I couldn’t just take out my Galaxy SII and GPS the place! 3. How was it possible that NO ONE I asked knew where the street was!! 4. I was angry that the place was just a huge circle inside another huge circle! 5. I felt like I failed for the day! and I do NOT like to fail!

When I got home I just burst into tears! I was so tired, frustrated, and upset! Nothing like feeling useless in a foreign country to bring you some culture shock!  :/