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Culture Shock!!!

 
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mrcards



Joined: 16 Mar 2006
Posts: 5

PostPosted: Thu May 04, 2006 11:56 pm    Post subject: Culture Shock!!! Reply with quote

Welcome to your new country. Youíve come here for fun, excitement, change, challenge, and perhaps money. Will the locals speak your language? Iím not trying to scare you, but perhaps they wonít. 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 doesnít affect everyone the same way. Some just canít understand it when the locals donít speak English. Some canít comprehend why there arenít 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 arenít 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 didnít think about was that the people that live there can read the signs just fine, and it certainly isnít necessary for them to change them all just for me. A friend of mine had a girlfriend that hated everything about Taiwan and couldnít 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 doesnít she just leave. I cared about Taiwan and its people and to be completely honest, I didnít 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 canít adjust to their new environment properly.
Others suffer from a much more realistic and understandable reason, homesickness. Itís 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 isnít like home. Yes, this new place is strange and different. No, your friends and family arenít 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 youíre 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. Itís obviously not bad for you, or these people wouldnít be eating it themselves. I have to laugh to myself when I hear about people going to Taiwan and eating McDonaldís all the time.
The culture in your new destination will obviously be different when compared to where youíre 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 thatís me, and that was his decision, not mine. I just goes to show you that people are different. Donít 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 youíre about to discover. Enjoy yourself and make the absolute most of your experience. Donít fear culture shock, embrace it.
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Lee Hobbs
Site Admin


Joined: 08 Dec 2005
Posts: 137
Location: TheGulfCoast

PostPosted: Fri May 05, 2006 3:15 am    Post subject: Re: Culture Shock!!! Reply with quote

mrcards wrote:
. . . Culture shock is an interesting phenomenon that doesnít affect everyone the same way . . .


Mrcards has brought up a really interesting subject here, posters!

Any of you have something to contribute on the subject of Culture Shock and ESL? This would make a really great new discussion thread (and give us a break from some of the more over-discussed topics).

Looking forward to seeing your responses

Lee
http://www.english-blog.com

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Lee's blog is still available, however, here: www.english-blog.com
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btownsend



Joined: 23 Feb 2006
Posts: 21
Location: France

PostPosted: Fri May 05, 2006 8:49 am    Post subject: Culture shock Reply with quote

Hello,
This is what I wrote recently on the ESL School weblog:

Anyone who leaves their familiar environment for a prolonged spell is prone to the stress of culture shock. Although we know on a rational level that we are going to meet unfamiliar routines and customs, emotionally it
takes time to adjust and this period of adjustment leads to unexpected reactions. These could include mood swings, depression, frustration, loneliness, apathy, even panic or physical symptoms such as headaches, insomnia, colds, stomach upsets. Each of us reacts differently under stress.

Firstly, language may be a source of profound difficulty. If you are not proficient in the language of the host country then the problems could accumulate to an intolerable level. Back home you are a sophisticated individual, well able to articulate your needs and ideas. Suddenly you find people looking at you with blank incomprehension, sometimes even wincing as you massacre their native tongue in your attempts to communicate. It's not surprising that you feel frustrated and isolated.

Other changes such as climate, food, different timetables have a more invidious effect. You may not realize that these are the sources of your emotional, mental or physical pain. Small things start to have a disproportionate importance. People's different behavior patterns have a subtle influence too: are they more time conscious than you or less so? Do they use unfamiliar gestures and facial expressions? How formal are they in social and work situations? Do men and women play different roles from those you are used to?

Typically culture shock moves through different stages, from the initial excitement of the new challenge to a sense of being overwhelmed by all that is unfamiliar, followed by a period when you settle in and gradually take a more balanced view of your new surroundings. The second phase can be very alarming and you may have the sense that you have made a terrible mistake and wish to go home. You will be missing your family and friends, you will long for the foods you can't find in your host country, or your favorite TV program.

So what can you do to minimize the impact of culture shock? Well, you can make full use of all the technological aids that can keep you in touch with your loved ones; nowadays it is possible through email and even video links to make contact as often as you need to. Join societies, sports clubs, work groups that can bring you into contact with your compatriots so that you can swap experiences, borrow and lend books and magazines and talk about your comparisons of the new milieu with the home country. These are the means by which you will feel less isolated and cut off. It can be very reassuring to find a compatriot who understands your reactions.

Proper preparation before you leave for the new country is vital too. Get up to speed on the essential information about the place: its customs, food, religion, all the systems you will need to have contact with such as education, health-care, driving regulations. Do your very best to learn at least a little of the language and try out some of the typical food before you go. And if things get bad, tell your Director of Studies. It is only reasonable that the school that has brought you away from your home country should provide you with some support in the early stages. Schools should have an induction period for new teachers and could do much to counter the sense of isolation the newcomer often feels.
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Brenda Townsend Hall, Ph.D.
www.esl-school.com
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Lee Hobbs
Site Admin


Joined: 08 Dec 2005
Posts: 137
Location: TheGulfCoast

PostPosted: Fri May 05, 2006 4:17 pm    Post subject: Re: Culture shock Reply with quote

btownsend wrote:
. . . Proper preparation before you leave for the new country is vital too. Get up to speed on the essential information about the place: its customs, food, religion, all the systems you will need to have contact with such as education, health-care, driving regulations . . .


Excellent advice Brenda.

Come on veterans, what else can we say about Culture Shock for those just getting into the game?

Best,

Lee
http://www.english-blog.com

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Lee's blog is still available, however, here: www.english-blog.com
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Guy Courchesne



Joined: 05 Jun 2004
Posts: 263
Location: Mexico

PostPosted: Fri May 05, 2006 5:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Learn to laugh. You can't avoid culture, so avoid the shock. Clearly, things will be different in a new country...isn't that why we choose to go to a new place?

Now, reverse culture shock...that's more interesting. going back home after a time abroad presents some real challenges. My only advice is that one should try to remember that there is no rule that you have to conform. There's something enticing about having all that experience in your head and being a little different from the herd.

Quote:
Do not try and bend the spoon. That's impossible. Instead... only try to realize the truth.
What truth?
There is no spoon.
There is no spoon?
Then you'll see, that it is not the spoon that bends, it is only yourself.

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Life is a verb, not a noun - Now Bloggin' and Working Hard
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mrcards



Joined: 16 Mar 2006
Posts: 5

PostPosted: Sat May 06, 2006 12:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Guy Courchesne wrote:
Learn to laugh. You can't avoid culture, so avoid the shock. Clearly, things will be different in a new country...isn't that why we choose to go to a new place?

Now, reverse culture shock...that's more interesting. going back home after a time abroad presents some real challenges. My only advice is that one should try to remember that there is no rule that you have to conform. There's something enticing about having all that experience in your head and being a little different from the herd.

Quote:
Do not try and bend the spoon. That's impossible. Instead... only try to realize the truth.
What truth?
There is no spoon.
There is no spoon?
Then you'll see, that it is not the spoon that bends, it is only yourself.


Well...I'm just learning how to use these "quotes", so be nice... Smile

There have been some great points from both Guy and btownsend.

btownsend brought up a great deal of things that I never considered when I wrote my article, but many points related to my experiences.

Guy mentioned backwards culture shock, if there is such a term, is something that I DEFINATELY suffered from once I got back to Canada. Oh my, things were just so boring and absolutely nothing going on. Sure I got to see my friends and family, but that excitement lasts about 2 days. I'll tell you, not long after my return I was longing to head back to Taiwan. Since then I've been back visiting twice, and I guess I'm used to Canada again. One thing's for sure, and that I do miss my time there teaching English.

Well, maybe one day, right? We'll see.....

Thanks for listening! Very Happy
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