Here's the problem: the honeymoon phase has ended for me.
For those that aren't aware of the stages of culture shock, here's a brief overview, thanks to help from Wikipedia (paraphrased):
1) The Honeymoon Phase
When first arriving to a foreign culture, the newcomer is awestruck with the differences in cultures. Everything new is wonderful, and the newcomer becomes very excited about every small thing. Lasts 0-3 months on average.
2) The Negotiation Phase
Ah, the wall between cultures can no longer be ignored. Things are different, and quite honestly, it would be a lot easier to go back to the way the newcomer is used to doing things. The differences in language, if applicable, are difficult to really grasp, but you can no longer just be an ostrich with its head in the sand. Lasts on average 6-9 months.
3) Adjustment Phase
The new way of life is no longer so "new" and is more "normal". Most parts of daily life can be expected, and a person falls into a comfortable routine.
4) Mastery Phase
The newcomer is able to participate comfortably in society, and society's norms are, for the most part, understood. It's not a sense of total conversion, but rather one of comfort.
So now that I've been here for two months, it's difficult for me to even pretend that I'm still in the honeymoon phase. I feel constantly frustrated with both the people around me and with myself. Even now, when the number of tourists has decreased, I still constantly have Berliners talking to me in English. Of course, I've learned to just keep talking in German back to them, no matter how stubborn they are, but it's frustrating to think that my accent is so bad that they can tell right away that I'm not a German. It's even more annoying when I go out with other people from the UCs, say to a museum, and the Germans don't switch to English with them, but will with me.
The other thing is, I'm really not meeting too many Germans. Most of my friends here are other people from the UCs, and the students in my class are all international students. In two months, I've only really met and talked to a handful of Germans, most notably my roommate and her friend who stayed over, and my teachers.
I'll admit this here, I was one of those naïve people who thought culture shock wouldn't hit nearly this hard. I have almost always able to go with the punches pretty easily and not get hung up when things get difficult. But I can't help but think how much easier things would be if I just stayed in Davis for the year. As the school year is getting ready to start at the UCs, I'm starting to think about everything I'm going to miss this year because I'm halfway around the world.
I'm also beginning to wonder if I'll be able to handle my classes when the semester starts in five weeks. My German class right now doesn't seem to be helping too much so far, as we're doing a lot of busy work, with worksheets and conjugation memorization galore. I realize that the only way to improve my language skills is to practice them, but I feel the best way we'd be able to know if we're ready for the immersion experience is to put us in a class that is in the style of an actual university class.
If what Wikipedia says is true (which, given that it's Wikipedia, it MUST be!), I'm going to be in this stage for a while. Then again, I went through the honeymoon stage faster than it estimated, maybe I'll get through the negotiation stage faster also. Because right now, I keep thinking to myself, "It'll be worth it in the end," and that's really one of the only things keeping me going.
Any suggestions on things to improve the culture shock experience? Besides just practicing the language more, because the language barrier really is only one of many barriers I'm facing here.
And, just for clarification, it's not that I'm unhappy here. My feelings are more frustration than anything else.