June 25, 2011
Considering the many different countries you got to live in and your aim to immerse into each new culture, you can really draw on ample experience when it comes to cultural discovery and adaptation. While I recall you being reflective for example of your experience in Paris and Amsterdam, as far as I recall you have not yet devoted a full article to culture shock as a general phenomenon. I am particularly curious about the changes of perception of culture shocks, cultural adaptation, your own cultural adaptability and yourself over time.
Would you like to share your point of view here? Maybe a detailed article is already underway? I recall how you referred to the marked cultural contrast when announcing your current Turkish mission, so I guess it could fit in your general theme.
In view of the amount of time you spend out of Ireland, what are your experiences with reverse cultural shock? And what does “home” mean to you?
Having returned in March from sub-Saharan Africa where I had been since January 2010, I might be subject to reverse culture shock. Despite having heard about this concept, I neglected it, expecting the new culture (and my drastically different living conditions) to pose the greater challenge. However, adaptation to the new culture seemed like an adventure not taking too much effort, while back home I find that some of my values and perceptions just changed so much that I sometimes experience a state of disorientation or confusion.
Thank you in advance for your insights.
June 1, 2009
Hey Lingo! Great questions 🙂
I don't have anything in mind at the moment, but I may indeed write such a "culture shock" article some day!
To avoid intense culture shock, I have my routines that keep me "sane" and my outside world continues to change regardless with completely new friends, new environment, new language, new customs, new body languages and way of treating people etc. Sometimes it can get overwhelming, but the consistencies help.
The Internet is my main anchor. When I go online, I'm on my same laptop, chatting to the same people in MSN and on Facebook, using the same interface and programs I always do. I like to call my parents up on Skype to video them in our living room, as if I was home with them. It's a virtual anchor, but considering how I spend several hours a day on the computer, it really does help me not lose some sense of identity.
Once I'm out the door I have to try to adapt as well as I can. In some places this is welcome - I love Brazil for these reasons; there is no aspect of the culture I can't embrace. But in other places it's frustrating and I miss aspects of other parts of the world. Not necessarily "home", but from previous homes.
I haven't ventured much outside of the European side of Istanbul yet, so to be totally honest I have very little culture shock to date. This will change as I move away from this part of the city.
I had reverse-culture shock my first times home, but when you get the "shock" so much, you start to get numb to it. (Since I've gone home dozens of times by now). This is actually a good thing! I feel no awkwardness when I'm home. I simply appreciate time with my family, ask my friends curious questions about how life has been for them (my first times, it was more me-me-me; an unfortunate selfish side-effect everyone has after a world-trip) and just relax and appreciate the familiarity of the place I grew up in.
My first times back home were always so hard. I had this feeling that "nothing has changed" and "nobody gets me", but I realise in retrospect that this is just arrogance and judging people's lives by incompatible criteria.
I no longer have reverse-culture shock and always look forward to going home. However there is not enough stimulation in my home town for me to stay longer than a few weeks without getting bored.
June 25, 2011
I’m impressed with how much you managed to put into your response and still reply so quickly. Thank you for providing food for thought. The point you made about consistency got me not just thinking about consciously pursued rituals and consistent choices, but also re-evaluating habits in a more general context. The more I think about it, the more I appreciate the role of habits.
Another aspect I that struck me was the declining reverse culture shock – one might have presumed that extra time abroad equals extra ali[Beware! This is SPAM posted by a third party] upon return to one’s home contry.
I keep this post shorter than I had in mind: It is just too late now
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