I found Istanbul to be surprisingly hectic; specifically in this area I'm standing (by the ferry terminal). Chaos, especially in a very foreign city can be extremely overwhelming and stressful, which I think is exactly why so many people avoid notoriously hectic cities, such as Bangkok, Delhi, Ho Chi Minh, etc.
Over my years of living abroad, I've learned not to shy away from, but actually embrace crazy destinations like this because:
1) It's a reality check on how others live, which makes me more empathetic;
2) It's a concentrated dose of culture, and in one hour I can learn more about the place then I can in 3 weeks in a more chill environment;
3) As uncomfortable as a foreign crowd is, once you're out of it, reflecting on it gives you an adrenaline rush (like, "holy shit, that was crazy!");
4) My hands-down most vivid, burned-in-my-brain memories of my travels involved moments of pure culture shock and they're the memories I'll have the longest. How can I not appreciate that?
Do you embrace or shy away from culture shock? What destination have you been most shocked by?
- Christa ( @christabellatravels ), from Boston.