I celebrated my first Halloween in Prescott, AZ. My American friend took out her box of accessories and made me into a pirate. I looked at myself in the mirror, and looked away quickly. The idea of “dressing like someone else” was still strange to me, even though I had learnt in school about Halloween a long time ago. Personally I had never been to a themed party in my life, and the celebration of carnival is a tradition from Western Christianity which has never dominated Chinese culture in history. The exaggerated features such as costumes, heavy make-ups and extreme behaviors reverse the everyday norms and become strange and unfamiliar. I struggled a lot to understand that during my first years studying abroad: Why can’t I have fun just being myself without costumes and drinking? Today, many young people celebrate Halloween for fun regardless of their cultural tradition. I’m sure now in the clubs of Beijing there are some wild parties going on 👻👻👻
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Culture shock. Culture shock that was unexpected. Here I am naively thinking that I am this world traveller, that I knew what I was getting into, that somehow just understanding what culture shock was would make me immune to it.
I read travel blogs about Africa, what to expect. I did research on the company that I chose to join. I asked friends and peers for advice. I got two travel books. I tuned into myself by following a lifelong dream to volunteer in another country. To live briefly in another culture. To make beautiful connections, to help where I thought help was needed (which it is, just maybe not in the way I had set out for it to be). I also did what I normally do, I tried to leave myself open to the experience. Not to set too many expectations, my experience has often taught me that expectations often lead to failure. So sometimes it is better to go with the flow. Set up a few non-binary plans and let the universe lead the way.
So I did it, I made my dreams come true. I did the research, I booked the tickets, I utilized my skills, I found a woman’s empowerment program to help adult women gain an education. I paid a decent fee, packed my bags and moved to across the world to Africa to live for one short month of my life. I wasn’t sure what I would learn on once I landed, but I knew I would face some challenges, I would be uncomfortable, I would grow. I would get a new perspective of the world. And so I did.
My culture shock didn’t happen while I was away. I mean probably did a bit each day, I picked up on small things that I would put into my “I’ll deal with this thought when I have more time”. I was so immersed in my duties while I was there that I barely had time to think about anything else. My days were spent trying to lesson plan, to make connections with the students, to teach myself English fundamentals to teach to someone else.
Now that i’m home, i’m processing the experience as a whole. Not the day to day things that i had to do to stay on top, in order to bring forth my best self for the students. Isn’t it funny that you don’t realize how stressed you are until you are out of the situation.
If you want to shake up your whole perception of how you thought you function in the world. Go live somewhere else for bit.
I’m taking a break.
I’m sorry about this mess,
but college is tough.
I’m out of haikus,
I’ve gotta make up my lab,
college is tough bois…
Day 2 in Rome - The first culture shock… vending machines on the street contain a lot more than food over here.
How many kisses make a proper greeting in France? There’s no single rule. As I travelled from the north of France to the south of France, the number of kisses on the cheeks also changes. Two kisses is commonly practiced, while in part of Provence, three kisses is the norm. I heard there are some places in the north you need to kiss four times! Just imagine the time you’ll have to spend on kissing when arriving late at a party 😆
There are few situations which phase me as much as when people ask “What’s up”
Is it a question? Even after living in the US and A for 8 years, I STILL DON’T KNOW! My cue for awkward chuckle and finger guns.
Can we talk about reverse culture shock & how crippling coming back to an American reality is?
When I left for a 6 month trip, I never thought coming home was going to be the most difficult part.
Tell me your stories.
Last Wednesday evening, Mom, Freddie, Poppy the Pussy Wagon, and I arrived in Canada following a spur of the moment decision to skip over Seattle in favor of more time to spend exploring my new environs.
In the almost-week that I’ve been here I’ve noticed a few things that I’m going to have to make an effort to get used to. Americans (and I among them) take for granted all the similarities we have with our mild-mannered sibling and up north, and occasionally even forget that the place with the funny accents and penchant for flannel isn’t simply an annexed portion of the Pacific Northwest. There are obvious differences— the money, the universal healthcare, the way words like “honor” and “center” are spelled “honour” and “centre”— and then there are the ones that aren’t as sexy, but are just as vital to the Canadian experience. Here are just some of them:
1. The gas/petrol, apart from being measured in litres, is priced in cents. Can someone explain how 145.53 cents/litre is clearer than $1.4553/litre?
2. You can write the date however you damn well please. mm/dd/yy? Great. dd/mm/yy? Fabulous. yyyy/dd/mm? Edgy, but still acceptable.
3. Despite having incredibly clean streets, there are about 3 public trashcans in the entire province.
4. Also, the speed limit signs are few and far between.
5. The highway speed limits are VERY conservative. Like, 55 mph max.
And quite possibly my favorite thing yet…
6. CANADA DOESN’T USE PENNIES!
I’m sure I’ll have more to add to the list as my tenure in this magical place continues.
You’re right, I don’t know you. I don’t know anybody.
But, I do see you.
I don’t know you, but I see how you treat me. Treat your friends, treat your enemies. And the difference between them. But I don’t KNOW YOU.
I see your short temper and the unkind things you say.
Or, I see your amazingly positive outlook in the time of disaster.
But I don’t know you.
I have no idea the actual intent behind your words or your actions. But I do know how it comes off.
I see the way you treat your animals. I see how your dog cowers or flinches when approached. Or how your horse would do anything for you.
I see what you choose to spend money on. Material objects? Bigger and bigger toys? Experiences? Maybe drugs and alcohol? I see how you can watch others struggle and seem to not care. Or maybe I see how you will do anything in your capability and sometimes beyond to help someone else.
To each his own, it’s not a judgement, just an observation. I may not agree, but your life is not my business. But I also know who would be willing to help if I needed it or asked. Do you want to be someone known for selflessness, or selfishness?
I hear the words you choose to use. Or maybe when you choose to be silent.
I see how you hold yourself, your confidence or lack there of. Your facial expression, and how they change.
But I don’t know you.
How do you want to be seen? Inevitably everyone is known in some way, be it their intent or not.
In the opposite way, I can’t even know how I, myself come off sometimes. I know my intent, but do I show that correctly? How do you see me? I know what some people may think. Maybe mean-spirited? Trailer trash? Snobby? Do I appear as kind as I hope and try to be to anyone?
Can you take a step back and see yourself? Know yourself from the other side. Are your words worth violating and insulting your family? Is it worth being known by even one single person, as a mean spirit? Are your actions worth the drama?
It’s not right, and it shouldn’t be, but it is the way it is. People can’t know the you that lives in your head, heart or soul, so they have to take note of the you that is presented with your body. If you don’t like how people are treating you, maybe you should analyze your behavior. Are you portraying your intentions adequately?
It’s already been six days since I reached Bangkok after a whole year of travelling around in Central-Asia. The city must have activated something in me, because even after a restless night, I decided to walk around the groovy neighborhood for hours, with the German guy I just picked up in the hostel as my companion. Bangkok seemed chill and lazy after arriving from India, it got me right on the first morning. And then it happened. Something was missing, I started to realize - I still don’t have the culture shock.
With a massive nomadic experience I find the culture shock similar to diarrhea on the first few days of a new tropical country - it happens, you get over it, and everything will be alright. It’s not scary or anything, more like some uncomfortable feeling, with alternating intensity after the first day’s excitement had passed. The symptoms vary too, but I think it depends on the person. In my case, what happens most of the time is that on the third/fourth day after reaching a new country, immediately, I don’t feel like doing anything. I don’t want to meet people, nor discover the new neighborhood; only hide in a corner, eat some comfort food, and browse Youtube without the judging looks of others. This might be a hard task in a hostel with zero-privacy,
but when i do find privacy, my symptoms will usually disappear by the end of the day.
The problem with culture shock occurs when I can’t hide. In that case, usually walking alone with some music, or reading all day on a bench helps. The point, is not to contact the local culture at all.
Sometimes it’s a bit different - I’m simply annoyed or lazy - but the basics are the same: I feel strange until I realize ‘yep, culture shock again. Too bad’. I always forget to prepare for it. All together it’s not a big thing, but I find it important to say it out loud for myself when it happens, because it can really affect my picture of the hosting culture. When I continue mingling around beside the symptoms, I end up just projecting my negativity to everything, and that’s not good for anyone.
There is a very simple dynamic in the background of culture shock - the tiny differences of the new culture. Every social group - ethnic, religious or cultural - is a bit different form the others around. Country borders are not real. The lines on the map are not circling around the traditions, nor the behavior patterns of the people; so one can experience even more culture shock within a country - when arriving to a new region or city. And sometimes, even after crossing a border - you may not come across culture shock there. Very unpredictable, that’s why it’s hard to recognize it from the beginning.
In my experience the culture shock is stronger when I reach a culture similar to my original socialization scene. It could be because, at first glance, everything looks the same. People are just slightly slower or faster, they are familiar and not significantly different.The small hidden details of their world is unknown to me. But once I start communicating nothing happens as planned. I’m communicating one thing, and locals understand a other. A bunch of misunderstandings based on cultural differences pop-up, and the brain freaks out, because it starts to feel insecure, and it will keep panicking until it’s able to chill back down again.
Dealing with culture shock is easier in a place that is drastically different from my own base of socialization, because I find it easier to let things go without the frustration of ‘lack of perfect understanding’. That’s my highly scientific and professional definition of culture shock.
At the end of the day, Culture Shock isn’t a big deal if we don’t overstress the situation. Go travel, get shocked as you like, give time for yourself, and it will just get easier each and every time.
June 2018, At the Onsen, Pen drawing on paper
Do you slip and slide like we do?
#party #drinking #drikinggames #whatwedo #sun #nature #college #cultureshock #AMshock #boys #saturdaysarefortheboys #frat #cheerleader #SAFTB #dillydilly (at SUNY Purchase)
I’m not sure that all of these things constitute culture shock, but all of them are things that surprised me or that I’ve noticed to be different during my time living here in Puebla, MX. If you plan to travel to Mexico in the future these are some things you may want to keep in mind.
1. Water: Do not drink the tap water! You won’t find drinking fountains on campus or anywhere else for the same reason. The tap water is not purified or treated to be safe for consumption in Mexico and could contain any number of unsafe chemicals, metals, bacteria, etc. This means you will have to budget water as a daily expense.
2. Toilet Paper: You can’t flush it down the toilet. Almost everywhere in Mexico you will see a little waste bin right beside the toilet, this is where you have to dispose of toilet paper as the plumbing system in the vast majority of the country is not built to handle it.
3. Items unattended: If you’re from the US, you may feel comfortable walking away from your laptop at a coffee shop or a public place for a few minutes to use the restroom or what have you, this is not advisable in Mexico. This is even something that the officials at UDLA warned us about during our first week. If you leave your items unattended in a public place for too long or forget them behind, there is a good chance you are kissing them goodbye. The people of Mexico are wonderful and kind, but you need to keep in mind just how valuable a single phone or laptop may be worth in a country with widespread poverty and a very low minimum wage.
4. Punctuality/Ahorita: This generally doesn’t apply as much at school or work, but in casual life you should probably get used to issues of punctuality. It’s not uncommon for you to have a date or a plan to meet friends and have them show up or be ready anywhere from 30 minutes-2 hours later than planned. It’s just more of a casual culture when it comes to time. A very common word in Mexico is “ahorita”, which means “right now”. Just keep in mind when someone tells you “ya me voy”, “ahorita vengo”. or “ahorita me voy” you should consider “right now” to be meant in el sentido mexicano, not in the literal sense.
5. Excessive Politeness/Formality: I didn’t want to publish a list of 5 things that all seem negative, so I feel like I should mention this also. People in Mexico are incredibly polite and formal, they often treat you with a level of formality that might seem excessive in America or in the English language. When complete strangers walk by your table as you eat they will often say “provecho” or “buen provecho”, which means bon apetite. If a complete stranger walks out of the room or leaves the table they might say “con permiso”. Servers, Uber drivers, and even just people on the street use frases like “mande” and “a sus ordenes” and they refer to you in the third person as “usted” in place of “tu”. It’s just an aspect of the culture here that was quite strange for me at first, but it is something that has grown on my as time goes on.
🇨🇳 WELCOME TO CHINA! (Not what I expected)….Watch first full episode on YouTube 🙌 💯 *Check bio*
#LanguageBarrier #NoMandarin #Abroad #CultureShock #Episode1 #ForbiddenCity #Forbidden #TiananmenSquare
(at Beijing, China)
I have been in Thailand for two and a half months. Can you believe it? I sure can’t. Not too long ago this reality was a crazy idea creeping its way into my thoughts and refusing to leave. Thank God it didn’t leave because I know this is exactly where I am supposed to be. I turned to the next chapter and I swear this is what was on the next page.
It really is a trip, how much can change in such a short time. Here I am living in Thailand, teaching English, and getting to see the world while just last year at this time I was studying for final exams and stressing about having one semester of college left. At this very moment exactly one year ago I was probably scrambling to finish a paper while the group text was blowing up about who was down to spend their Christmas money on going to Cabo for Spring Break. I was so comfortable in the familiar University library, clicking away on my iPhone screen at the speed of light, and likely thinking about how many new swimsuits I wanted for the trip.
Little did I know, the really good stuff, I mean the real life shit that was going to squish me and mold me into a better version of myself, hadn’t even started yet.
That “life shit” I’m referring to, I believe it’s begun. Everyday I wake up and my day has something new in store that differs from the accounts of the day before. Rather it is a hardship, which there have been plenty of, or a victory. A student slapping my butt with red paint on their hands or an all school assembly honoring a Buddhist holiday. I can’t stress this enough, every day brings something different. I am kept on my toes constantly and the learning never stops. I can feel it, the exposure and information in such abundance that it saturates my mind, struggling to absorb at the rate it’s coming in.
The learning moments are typically not easy, I’ve been sick and injured and sometimes just exhausted from the constant struggle of not knowing the language. The culture shock and growing pains have truly been a part of everyday life. With the seemingly never ending curveballs getting thrown my way, there has also been an immense feelings of power. I have overcome every bump in the road and I will continue to do so. I’ve proved to myself so much on this adventure and have reached a new level of satisfaction with who I was, who I am, and who I want to become. So thank you Thailand, for allowing me the gift of growth and knowledge and please keep periodically sending moments of discomfort and occurrences of misfortune. I will be ready and I will come out on top.
What’s going on here…? 🤷🏽♂️😂✌🏾 #cultureshock