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Culture Shock!!!

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Culture Shock!!!

Unread postby mrcards » Thu May 04, 2006 12:03 am

Welcome to your new country. You’ve come here for fun, excitement, change, challenge, and perhaps money. Will the locals speak your language? I’m not trying to scare you, but perhaps they won’t. Will some people there speak your language, oh most definitely. This is only one of the things that you may have to think about when you plan on going to a new country.
Culture shock is an interesting phenomenon that doesn’t affect everyone the same way. Some just can’t understand it when the locals don’t speak English. Some can’t comprehend why there aren’t any English signs anywhere to be found. Why are things done this way, and not that way? Why am I even in this situation? It would never happen in my home country. Questions like these can cause people to get stressed out and want to go back to their own countries. People can get frustrated when faced with change. Many people deal with it their own way, head back home.
In 1998, I traveled to Taiwan. I never once felt that I suffered from culture shock, personally. I always felt it was more like culture fascination rather than culture shock. I was amazed with everything that I saw and encountered. But I still had many questions. For instance, why aren’t there English street signs on the corner of every intersection? I felt that they would be very helpful for me and also for other people from English speaking countries. What I didn’t think about was that the people that live there can read the signs just fine, and it certainly isn’t necessary for them to change them all just for me. A friend of mine had a girlfriend that hated everything about Taiwan and couldn’t understand why it was different from her home in San Francisco. She hated the people, hated the food, hated the smells, hated the transportation, all because it was different from San Francisco. I asked her if she hated everything so much, why doesn’t she just leave. I cared about Taiwan and its people and to be completely honest, I didn’t want to hear any more of her complaining. She ended up leaving eventually, but after many more complaints. This is what happens to some people, they can’t adjust to their new environment properly.
Others suffer from a much more realistic and understandable reason, homesickness. It’s easy to miss your family, your friends, and your familiar stomping grounds. For people that decide to go overseas, they have to stay focused, enjoy themselves, and be strong. Yes, this new place isn’t like home. Yes, this new place is strange and different. No, your friends and family aren’t here. This was one of the biggest challenges that I had ever faced and I thrived on it.
Another factor involved can be diet. The foods that you’re used to eating may not be available in this new location. You may have to actually try something different. Believe me, this is a good thing. Trying new things will also be a test for you. Try the food that the locals eat everyday. It’s obviously not bad for you, or these people wouldn’t be eating it themselves. I have to laugh to myself when I hear about people going to Taiwan and eating McDonald’s all the time.
The culture in your new destination will obviously be different when compared to where you’re from. Things they say and do will most likely also be different. When I was in Taiwan, it was generally accepted for people to ask others how much money they made. In Canada, this is just an awkward question that is rarely asked, even amongst close friends. Actually, now that I think back to that time, I felt uncomfortable every single time I was asked my rate of pay. I was asked quite frequently and I never actually gave up that information to my inquisitors.
As I mentioned previously, culture shock affects different people different ways. I knew a guy who went to Taiwan; he was originally planning on staying for a year. He lasted 5 days. In my opinion, this small amount of time is not enough to give a fair evaluation of the country. But that’s me, and that was his decision, not mine. I just goes to show you that people are different. Don’t be worried about how culture shock is going to affect you, just buy a book and read a bit about your destination. Nothing will totally prepare you for what you’re about to discover. Enjoy yourself and make the absolute most of your experience. Don’t fear culture shock, embrace it.

Andrew
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Culture Shock...

Unread postby mrcards » Mon Jun 05, 2006 3:29 am

Does anyone else out there have any stories of culture shock that have happened to you or friends of yours? It'll be really interesting to hear other people's stories. :D

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Unread postby Estefania » Fri Aug 18, 2006 2:32 pm

My history with different cultures is quite long, even within the same country, you may experience a culture shock, or culture fascination. My name is Estefania, I was born in Bogota, Colombia. When I was 3 years old, I moved to an island in the caribbean, that belonged to Colombia, called San Andres. Since then, I have been an outsider, wherever I go.

It hasn't necessarily been a negative experience. I actually enjoy it.

Being the island from the same country, it was nothing like it. The islanders spoke a dialect that I didn't understand. There were no telephone lines, no internet until probably 1997 or 98, most times no electricity. But most importantly, it was unique. Today I can say that I lived in a paradise different than the whole world, and conveniently for my future it taught me to overcome many obstacles related to culture differences.

In 2001, when I was 16, I moved to Dallas, Texas. My view was no longer the ocean, it was now a car wash. my language was another, and neither my friends, nor my family were here.

More than a fascination for the culture, I developed a fascination for ALL different cultures. Human beings in my opinion have the capacity to adapt to any given situation, especially when they try.

Things happen and people change. I learned the language, and I made new friends. I also learned the many wonderful things the country had to offer.

I have to say that it wasn't easy. Sometimes I wanted to cry and sometimes I wanted to leave. I didn't understand the jokes, I didn't like the food and I was repetedly confused as mexican, and there was nothing wrong with it. But, I didn't like it when people made assumptions about me or my country. And even when I told them about being Colombian, the only comment they could make, would be, "Oh! are you a drug dealer?" Nobody knew better, it was a sad reality to awake to. And many times I wished with all my heart that I was back home. Until one day, I realized that even if I went back home, I would be an outsider there. Simply because living in a different country, had changed my perspective of life.

Now, I am planning to move to Buenos Aires next year, to take the TEFL course, and hopefully to find a job. I am not completely sure that it will be the best decision, but I am sure that it will be a fulfilling experience.

If anyone has any suggestions or comments about Argentina, and also any suggestions for teaching english (taking into account that I am not a native speaker)please let me know. Thank you!
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A CULTURE SHOCK REPLY!

Unread postby alys84 » Thu Aug 24, 2006 12:13 am

Okay I know what you mean when you say that kind of experiences. I think it's real, the fact that if you are going to live in a new country, you should at least read about the culture. You should be aware of everything, most of the times the people who travel to a foreign country, they think is easy, BUT OF COURSE NOT!!! I haven't had an experience like that, but I'm willing to go to another country, I am from Mexico and of course to whatever place I go, I know that the culture it's not going to be the same as mine and eventhough I've never been to far from my house and from my parents, I know that I'm not going to be able to have them with me always!!!! I had a cousin who went to Germany, he had the great opportunity to have an exchange from a whole semester and he spent a lot of money in stupid things, but anyway he went there and he didn't even last a week..... I was so surprisedd!!!!! I couldn't believe it, I would have give anything to have that kind of opportunity, but well it was a disaster at the end. I hope I can go one day to a far land, I'm thrilled only to think about it.....
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