Culture Shock

To me, culture shock has always sounded like one of those concepts study abroad advisors and travel agents explain to you just to convince you they aren’t completely useless. Oh no, my destination is different than my home country. Of course it is. That’s why I’m going.

For the casual tourist or vacationer, culture shock isn’t a worry. Chances are you’re staying for only a week or two. You’ve planned to see all the sights, stay in the best hotels, and eat at the best restaurants. Basically, you’re tasting all the best the country has to offer. Who can blame you? Sounds like a great time.

However, for those who plan to stay abroad for longer periods of time, culture shock is real. It may come in different shapes and sizes, and some may be more prone to it than others. See, you’ve been away from home so long that you stop thinking, “What a wonderful and exciting place this is!” and start getting home sick.

You become antisocial and lazy. You’d rather spend all day in the safety of your room than venture out into that alien world once more. As you walk by people on the street, you grit your teeth and scorn them for simply being who they are because the terrible fact is they’re not who you are and they’ll never be like you. You want your home, your family, your friends, and your food. Personally, the last one really got me. Here in Russia, my host family encourages me to put ketchup on my pasta. Ketchup! That’s not a sauce. Crazy.

Just remember, culture shock is a phase, just like that honeymoon period you experienced earlier when everything was new and exciting. How long the phase lasts depends on how you handle it. You can sulk alone and let the culture shock fester inside you until a miracle snaps you out of it. Or you can get out there and adventure like you initially intended to. Your choice.


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