- 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.)