That’s a big thing. I’ve seen it represented visually as a roller coaster and an iceberg, and I’m sure there are countless other drawings designed to give culturally (and, apparently, verbally) isolated American students an idea of what to expect when studying abroad. Even the name implies a gigantic sensation. It’s not culture tremble, culture shiver or even culture cough. It’s a shock to your system—a pretty big deal.
But here’s the thing. I’m not feeling it. And I mean that both figuratively and literally.
Maybe my problem is with the concept, or maybe it’s the terminology. I don’t believe you should go into a new situation expected to be “shocked” by what you encounter. To me, the idea presumes that you’ve only ever considered your own way of doing things, and the deviations from that pattern will rock you to your core. That’s just closed-minded. I’m mildly offended that people would think like that, but what really bugs me is that that’s how I’m expected to react.
Nope. Call it naivete if you want, but I prefer to call it flexibility. I’m here to learn how another culture works, not to let that culture shock me. I’m actively adapting, not passively being shocked.
Objective: Beat culture shock.