Culture Shock Reviews
Nov 03, 2007
I personally have travelled to many countries around the world. Most foreigners tend to agree that China probably provides the greatest initial culture shock, especially in rural provincial areas. Chengdu City itself is okay, because it is modern and international. However in most parts of China, the biggest shock to outsiders is “LINGUISTIC” (language) shock. By this, I mean that virtually no one speaks English. Try to imagine yourself in a place where you cannot speak, read, write and most importantly, understand what is being said. All you can do is see and perhaps wave your arms around. It is much the same as being deaf and dumb. Welcome to the biggest hurdle that foreigners struggle with during culture shock.
The purpose of this article is to give a clearer understanding of the unpleasant feelings associated with the condition known as “CULTURE SHOCK”. It is generally felt that it is hard to actually describe culture shock. Some people would say that once you’ve had culture shock, you know it. Perhaps it’s like falling in love. It just happens. Another aspect of it could be homesickness. The same sort of homesickness that many Chinese students experience when they are far away from their families, friends and hometowns. It doesn’t matter from which part of the world you may be from, there can be a sense of bewilderment, disorientation, isolation and loneliness, when you are away from home.
Perhaps we should firstly consider the personal needs an individual has to satisfy in order to be able to be at their best in their own familiar country and culture. It may be reasonable to believe that if a person can handle things well in his/her own society, then surely s/he would be better equipped to cope with culture shock elsewhere. This is not necessarily the case at all. If we take a look at the different stages or phases of culture shock, and also some cultural differences that may be experienced due to a change in customs, this could prove to be very useful for anyone wanting to travel abroad, or otherwise wishing to understand some of the foreigners that you are likely to meet here in China.
Studies show that predictable stages occur when people enter a new culture, country, or environment. The length and intensity of each stage varies from person to person.
1. Honeymoon stage
2. Hostility stage
3. Adjustment or acceptance stage
4. Home stage
5. Re-entry or reverse culture shock
With respect to RE-ENTRY or REVERSE CULTURE SHOCK, some people say that they do not experience culture shock when they are in another country, but rather when they return to their own country. They expect things to be different when they go abroad but when they come home, no one expects them to have changed. It can often be more difficult to come home than it is for foreigners to stay in the foreign country which they have adapted themselves to, over a period of time.
Expatriate writer Warren Rodwell has been in China since 2002, and teaches university postgraduates in Chengdu. Many of his feature stories, reviews & photographs have been published online or in hardcopy media form. Warren also narrates documentaries and administers various websites as part of his efforts to promote Chengdu & Sichuan culture(s) more globally.
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