I'm the same as you I found it a bit of an adventure even if I didn't like the food or whatever it was just exciting being somewhere totally different.
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Hi everyone, my name's Andrew. I've written up a little article about culture shock and thought that some people going to another country to teach English might enjoy it, and perhaps get some use from it. Here goes:
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.
Last edited by mrcards; 06-May-2006 at 00:18.
Yeah, I had a little trouble adjusting to the food there, but I tried it at least. Does anyone else have any stories about their own culture shock experiences?
Last month one of my students went to the USA. It was her first visit to an English-speaking country. She's a vet (she's the best vet dermatologist in Russia) and she went to an international congress.
By the way, she has been learning English for a year and a half... She can express any of her ideas but has difficulties in understanding fluent speech of native speakers. Being a very sociable person she was depressed in the USA because she couldn't understand people and was shy to "pardon" all the time.
But I think it was a language shock :)
I don't think that would be unheard of. Being in a place where no one speaks your language or no one seems to understand you, is definately enough to bring someone down. It's nice to feel comfortable, but as you said, when enough people say "pardon?" to you, it can really start to wear on you. Ah, a positive attitude and the ability to try and try again should be enough to overcome that, though.Originally Posted by Anna Xpomoba
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as a Chinese student major in English education, i think cultural shock is a very interesting topic!
i know some stories about the cultural difference between China and western cnoutries. for example, Chinese people don't hug each other when they meet as westerners do. another one is westerners don't eat tofu made with animal blood, which for Chinese people is quite a nice dish, etc.
even though in recent years, a lot of Chinese people are interested in western culture and try to imitate their life style, there are still many traditional habits that are hard to get rid of.
could you tell me something about the cultural difference between China and other countries?
Thank you for your realistic approach!!! I know with your attitude, you will inspire those around you to, NEVER GIVE UP!!!!!
I HAVE COME FROM SOUTH AFRICA, TO ENGLAND AND HAVE ENJOYED AND EMBRACED ENGLAND. YES THERE ARE NOT MANY CHANGES, BUT CHALLENGES, GALORE!!!
WHAT IS LIFE, IF WE DON'T HAVE CHALLENGES!!!
I LOOK FORWARD TO MY NEW TEACHING CAREER!!!!
THANK-YOU SO MUCH FOR YOUR WORDS OF ENCOURAGEMENT!!!!
Even traveling to the UK from the US, two countries which allegedly speak the same language, provides a certain amount of culture shock. The signs on the motorway (which we'd call a highway in the US) are a bit strange: "Diversion Ahead"? I was expecting a line of chorus girls or something. "Heavy Plant Crossing" - Watch out for the giant begonia! The steering wheel is on the wrong side of the car, and driving on the left provided endless comical situations (luckily no one was hurt!) And just try to ask someone for directions, especially outside of London: "You just nip up the Wickershams, rally 'round the Gorm-and-Scumble, go right straight through the roundabout, and Jack's a donut, you're there!"
Even the food is different, although I did quickly develop a taste for the full English breakfast and fish and chips with brown sauce. By the time I'd gotten used to saying "lift" instead of "elevator" and "Tube" instead of "subway" during each visit, it was time to return home.
To Ouisch: Funny! There are so many countries around the world and even though we are all the same children of this planet, it's amazing how the differences from region to region can be so vast. It's true that North America and the UK are different, and saying that, I'm sure it's true that people from Singapore have their own issues when going to Vietnam (or better yet, Taiwan vs. China)
To Linda: It's great that you accept challenges with open arms. A challenge can be a very easy thing to overcome, you just have to deal with it and not let it influence you. Remaining positive and always pushing yourself will certainly move you in the right direction. Good going!
To Sunline: In China, Hong Kong specifically, I found the culture to be strictly business. I was there to get a visa and was only in HK for 2 days, but the atmosphere was very different from my home city of London in Canada. First off, HK was incredibly busy, people rushing left and right...something that I never see even in one of Canada's busiest cities, Toronto. Secondly, the smells were quite strange to me. Not necessarily bad, but smells that I could not identify with, so I felt they were weird. I had tried to ask for directions from someone, but they just walked away. So, my experiences with HK were quite a bit different from my regular days in Canada, even different from my time in Taiwan. But, as I mentioned about remaining positive, I'm sure that the rest of China will please me, once I make time for this trip.
Culture shock is everywhere, everyday, and happens to many people. It's not something that we'll ever be able to fully control, but we will be able to control how we as individuals adjust to our adversities.
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