Monday, October 22, 2007

Noteshare: Culture Shock

Ever thought about what it may be like to leave everything and move far way? Sounds exciting, right? Yes, it can be...but allow me to introduce the chart (something I've been shown many times by now during missions orientation classes). This graph represents what occurs emotionally to people who move to another culture called "culture shock." It just happens. It's normal. It has 4 general phases, which can vary in length. It takes time, different lengths for different people in different situations. Sometimes - a long time.
  1. Honeymoon stage: Emotions are positive. Everything is so different, exciting and new! 2. Crisis: Reality begins to hit. Everything is so different - and its ... well...not so great anymore. Emotions can be very negative. High stress levels, dissatisfaction with the change and health problems may occur. One day they feel great and the next can be terrible. Disorientation (you don't even know where the bathroom is unless you can ask correctly AND can also understand what your told, hopefully before...), foreign routines (everyone else knows when to sit, stand, eat, ask, leave, eat, drink, accept, decline, look in the eyes, don't look in the eyes, let your lips touch the cup, walk in a clockwise direction, spit - what's your problem??), foreign behaviorial cues (does a nod up/down or side to side mean "yes" or "no"? Does their laughter when talking to you indicate humor, embarassment, ridicule or frustration? If pointing your feet at anyone is an insult, how do you sit?). Time? Can mean NOTHING. What's wrong with spontaneously visiting you at 6am on a workday and then sitting in silence for a long time? Food? Bad topic. Don't ask about anything even remotely related to digestive health. And foreign language? Any preschooler can communicate better than you, and people cannot always cater to your limited vocabulary in order to have "intelligent" discussions. Or maybe if they just talk louder and enunciate clearly, you will understand? No? Well then, you'll just have to eat whatever it is in the bowl. Try not to cry. People are watching. 3. Gradual Recovery: Emotions begin to get back to normal. You are beginning to feel more comfortable with the change and feel like you have some understanding of the culture. 4. Gradual Adjustment: Grows accustomed to the new culture and develops routines. Becomes concerned with basic living again as you were in the old culture. Some other time, we'll talk about reverse culture shock. :)


Michelle said...

ok, so you asked! YES ! As you know that I have been there and done that. It is everything you say. Hope everything is going well. Miss you and love you!

We WILL talk soon. Everything is a little hectic. Les is now sick and I had to miss work to take him to the Dr. which took all morning. Anyway, maybe tomorrow morning we can talk.

BekahTheJesusLover said...

I love the way you write. It's like you're sitting here sharing it with us.

I MISS YOU!! I didn't get to talk WITH you enough the other day.. Next time I promise to shut up and listen. :-) Love you!