Culture shock – n., the feeling of disorientation experienced by someone who is suddenly subjected to an unfamiliar culture, way of life, or set of attitudes.
Reverse culture shock – n., the culture shock an individual experiences upon returning to their home country after living abroad.
You may hear me talk a lot about culture shock. I’ve been through my fair share, involving a variety of different circumstances and customs – manners, eating hours, eating habits, the gym, familial relations, etc. When I was preparing for to go to Toledo in 2008, they gave us loads of materials having to do with culture shock, including a diagram similar to the following one. I’ve studied the diagram again and again and I still don’t think I’ve ever gone through these stages, at least in order. And, at least to me, it’s frustrating. Am I that abnormal? Everyone else experiences this stages, at least to some degree, or so it seems.
I’ve never went through the so-called “honeymoon stage,” wherein everything is new, interesting, and exciting. WTF? I want it, yet realistically I know it’s no longer possible. When I first arrived in Spain, everything was scary and I was homesick. Right away. Add jet lag to that and you get a miserable Kaley who spent way too much time in a tiny room that smelled of rust.
At stage 5 on this diagram, it says: “You see the host as your new home and don’t wish to depart or leave new friends.” Nope. Nope, I always want to depart…I have friends here. I mean, the love of my life is here, but still, I want to leave. Why is this?
As far as stage 6, yes, I am always excited to return home.
In stage 7, it says you may feel “frustrated, angry, or lonely because friends and family don’t understand what you experienced and how you changed. You miss the host culture…” No. No, my parents try to understand as best they can and, honestly, I don’t care if my friends and family don’t “get” it. I don’t expect them to get everything anyway. We are different. Weird fact, I know.
I hope I do do number 9, incorporating what I learn(ed) into my new life and career.
But still, reverse culture shock? What is that? And why am I not cool enough to have it?!
America, here I come. In 8 days. No culture shock for me.
(Disclaimer: my one “shock” could be that I refuse to eat lunch any earlier than 1:30 and dinner before 8. I can’t do it.)
Now, these don’t apply to everyone, but just stuff I’ve seen lately!
It’s totally okay to shake out your dusty rag over the street below … no one cares if they get dust on their head, after all.
Spying on your elderly neighbor and inventing stories is very good breakfast-time entertainment.
Flies are smarter here. You see, in the U.S., if they got in, I’d always open a window, hoping they’d fly out. No dice. But here, here they DO. How great is that! American flies, take note.
Spanish men (the old ones) tend to walk with both their hands clasped behind their back. Why?! Good question.
When you enter a café, you never know if you’ll be entering a card game of some sort…I have done this twice, and all the old men stare at me.
Two things you will never lack: bread and coffee. There’s a shop every two feet as well as a café/bar.
Everyone must have backpacks on wheels (if you’re 14 or under).
You needn’t be a twin to dress the same as your brother/sister.
When something big happens in a soccer game, you can tell just by listening out your window. Last night, we heard a loud cheer when Barcelona scored a goal. We turned on the radio to hear the announcer: “GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAL!” Hahah.
Coffee here is much, much better. So are oranges.
Only foreigners drink carbonated water…so apparently I identified myself. But I tried to explain that it’s not that common to drink “agua con gas” in the U.S. either.
Eat late. You’ll be cooler. In the summer, some families go to the beach and eat dinner at 12 midnight. That’s when you know you’re REALLY, really cool.