Monday, May 19, 2014

West Meets East and a Strange Case of Doubles


I thought that I would mention a strange coincidence that I have asked several folks here who are living abroad about.  I had a very interesting conversation with another American gal-pal here about doppelgängers. The three of us Americans (my friend, my husband, and myself) have all experienced something interesting after moving here: We saw many European versions of people we knew back home.  Of course we had run into people in the States that looked like twins of people we knew, but we have all experienced two strange variations on this experience: 

1) It happens very frequently about 2 months after you arrive and then it begins to taper off about 8 months after getting settled. 

2) It is rarely a double of someone that you knew well, but is more often an acquaintance or someone you haven't seen in a very long time.  

Yes, dude I once worked with at Burger King, you've got a Swiss double working as a mailman.  I'm also looking at you, Crazy Cat Lady I lived next door to, your Swiss twin did a nice job on my haircut.

Granted, none of us are psychologists, yet we speculate that this is a coping mechanism - one's brain may be trying to adjust to a new environment by combining old information into a new life.  I also think that it has a little bit to do with missing home.  Despite being able to take in such new and wonderful sites, there are definitely times when you miss the homeland.   

Chats with family and friends back home are always heartfelt and entertaining.  It means so much to be able to stay connected and really helps to fight "Heimweh" which is the German word for homesickness.   It took about two months for me to stop getting so excited when I heard people speaking English.  Now American English is another story; I will still stalk people in the street when I hear my beloved accent and try to think of casual ways to strike up a conversation with them.  

I'd be curious to know if anyone else who has made a big move has had similar experiences.  Feel free to share and let me know what you think about our speculation.