In 1967 two psychiatrists, Thomas Holmes & Richard Rahe developed the Social Readjustment Rating Scale.
It’s basically a list of 43 stressful life events (aka Life Change Unit or LCU) that have points attached to them so one is able to add up a score based on the amount of LCU’s they’ve experienced. The higher their score, the more likely they are to get ill. I am currently experiencing the following LCU’s:
- Change in Living Conditions (25 points)
- Revision of Personal Habits (24 points)
- Change in Work Hours or Conditions (20 points)
- ·Change in Residence (20 points)
- Change in Recreation (19 points)
- Change in Social Activities (18 points)
- Change in Eating Habits (15 points)
My total LCU score = 295 which according to the score interpretation means there’s a good chance I’m going to get sick in the near future. Some believe this test isn’t entirely accurate as people deal with stress differently and I tend to agree. There’s also a theory that people from different cultural backgrounds find certain events more or less stressful than others. For example; Americans and Malaysians view breaking the law and relationships differently (according to a study conducted using Holmes & Rahe’s scale) so even though they scored the same, it wasn’t as stressful for the one as it was for the other.
While I’ve possibly gone slightly off-topic while researching and writing about psychological surveys, there are some great talking points around my LCU’s which I didn’t actually realise were individual events. We tend to bundle something like relocating into one package but it’s actually made up of various things, in my case:
Change in Living Conditions
While I realise this post screams “First World Problems” (hey, at least I’m able to identify and acknowledge them without being completely clueless,) I’m still dealing with relative problems. If there’s one major lesson I’ve learnt early on in my time here, it’s that you should never commit to anything without actually seeing it for yourself. Photos lie, especially ones of apartments taken with a fisheye lens, and there’s always the chance that a person listing accommodation will forget to mention things or feel as though they aren’t worth mentioning.
When I found the current place I’m staying in on Airbnb, there was full disclosure about the fact that the private bathroom was on the roof but close to the studio. It has good reviews, some in foreign languages which I still haven’t bothered to translate and probably should have, but nothing glaringly bad which would’ve ultimately lead me to not pursuing staying here. I’d also decided to go with the private option as opposed to sharing because I want and need my own space. So when your partner, who’s just carried over 100kg of luggage up 3 very old wooden flights of stairs in 37-degree weather returns downstairs to growl “I’m not happy” at you, it’s very hard for your blood not to run cold and not realise that booking the place for 36 nights was a terrible mistake.
Without going into too much detail because quite honestly I’ve talked and thought it to death over the last few days, I feel as though I’m living in a room in someone else’s home, with very little privacy and the risk of possibly breaking my neck or electrocuting myself in the bathroom. My “housemates” also smoke up a storm and my chest now sounds like I’m the one smoking a box of Texan Plain a day. Luckily I’ve managed to get out of the long stay here and am going to look at another place this evening.
Revision of Personal Habits
The fact that I haven’t made myself a cup of tea in days says a lot. There aren’t even any mugs in the kitchen. I’m not really revising habits, I’m reinventing them. First new habit: leave shoes at the front door of your and other people’s homes. I’m getting used to this and have had a few days to practice in my own space. We also wear one pair of shoes to go to the bathroom and I have a pair for just walking around the apartment. It actually makes a lot of sense if you think about it. Second new habit: an umbrella is your new best friend. You walk a lot and it rains a lot.
Change in Work Hours or Conditions
I don’t have a job yet. Anyone who knows me well will understand how abnormal this is for me. I work. End of. I laughed when I saw it was only assigned 20 points, it should be at least 40. That said I’m always thinking about business opportunities. I have a few things in the pipeline, definitely not about to become a full-time Tai Tai (a Chinese colloquial term for a wealthy married woman who does not work.)
Change in Residence
Moving house is a schlep. I’ve just moved countries. Do I really need to go on? See ‘Change in Living Conditions’ above if you need more info.
Change in Recreation
Technically I’m on holiday for at least the next month + I’m in a new city so my recreational activities are mostly centred around being a tourist. Yesterday I walked to The French Concession via the Jing’an Temple & the most amazing supermarket I’ve ever seen. So overwhelmed my eyes hurt, so I’ll definitely go back because there’s so much to see, I don’t think I could ever be bored in this city. I came here with a plan to take lots of photos, cook, do yoga, improve my fitness levels, read, write & learn Mandarin. It’s Day 4, steady on.
Change in Social Activities
Meeting and making new friends has never been an issue I’ve had to deal with, and in a city of over 25 million people, I doubt it’s about to become one. it’s just a case of reinventing what you get up to in your free time and who you choose to spend it with. Watching rugby matches at odd hours is going to take some getting used to but is it really that bad? Nah. Being able to stay in touch with friends & family these days really isn’t that difficult either. With Skype, FaceTime, Whatsapp, WeChat & Facebook there really is no excuse.
Change in Eating Habits
My favourite topic of conversation. If I were to tell you that I’ve spent the last few days eating street food and local Shanghai cuisine, I’d be lying through my teeth. One thing I actually realised 2 days ago when trying to justify to myself why I’d just eaten Burger King, is that when you are tired and freaked out and far away from anything you know, you’re going to reach out for any sense of normality and something familiar.
I’m living here now, I’m not going anywhere, so if it takes some time to build up the confidence and trust in where I buy food from, then so what? That said, I’m not about to eat mystery meat from the side of the road with my seafood allergy and food safety concerns. I had dinner at a small noodle bar in the French Concession last night that was delicious. I have no idea what the two dishes were but one was rice and the other noodles. There was a small amount of beef, it was spicy, there were mushrooms and a vegetable I’m yet to identify and I should’ve ordered more. It’s a start.
I’ve found a great online grocer who caters for expats and has a strict policy about where their food comes from. Pesticides aren’t something a lot of farmers are scared about contaminating their products with so it is a huge issue here, as is ethically & responsibly sourced food. I’ve begun making a shopping list which is fun because I’m researching and learning about new products. Definitely not as easy as walking into a Woolies and cruising around the store on auto-pilot but exciting nonetheless. There’s probably going to be a bit of trial and error at first but it’s all about the experience.
Right now I can’t really live on 4 bottles of water + a box of Matcha Pocky Sticks in the fridge, so I’m off to find coffee and some form of food.