Have you ever moved to a different place? Have you ever gone somewhere new and felt like you do not belong? Have you ever had a feeling that everyone around you is different than you and that it is something you cannot control? This is culture shock. Culture shock hits people in the most unexpected of ways.
You might be used to living in a place where everyone goes to football games every Friday night, and be shocked to move to a place where people go to more soccer games instead. Maybe you come from a place where there are Mexican restaurants around every corner, and be shocked to go somewhere where there are Asian food restaurants instead. And there is nothing wrong with all of this. However, it is ok if you find difficulty handling all of this. But facing these changes should not scare you.
Embrace the Change
Change is good. Moving to a new place is true learning experience where you do not only learn about a new culture but learn about yourself as well. Do not be afraid to throw all of yourself into this new place and everything it has to offer. Maira Zapata, a fourth year Latin American Studies student went through this experience. Coming from the Rio Grande Valley, she says everything she knew was “tacos in every corner.” When she got to college however, she met “all sorts of people.” According to Maira, meeting people from places all around the world was what encouraged her to study abroad in China during the 2013 Spring semester.
For example, if you are from an area where everyone goes to the island every weekend, do not be afraid to go to a country restaurant everyone goes to on the weekends and try line dancing, or singing country music. Trying new things will help reduce and possibly eliminate your culture shock. You should not be ashamed to have never been exposed to these news things. There will be different cultures within every city, state, and country you go to. That is what makes the world so interesting. Imagine if everyone liked the same things and did everything the same way. We would never accomplish anything! Life would be boring! Culture shock allows you to embrace new cultures.
While everything will be different at first, take it as an opportunity to learn something new. Reach out to new people or places throughout a city that you never pictures yourself visiting. If you find that your are vacationing or at traveling somewhere, ask questions! Your doubts will only leave you with more questions and more of a “shock.”
For myself, moving to a big city after living in a border town for years resulted in me having issues adjusting and facing tremendous culture shock. I was not used to seeing and interacting with people who did not know Spanish or did not look at me. Before I started college I had never traveled past Corpus Christi, Texas. I After starting college, I felt as if I was finally let out of the bubble I was living. Going off to college is already a shock in itself. But with patience, openness, and willingness to accept and do new things, the change in your surroundings will be a breeze.