They say that culture shock hits hardest during the first few months while overseas. Though, considering covid-19 took over just about a few weeks after arriving to my field placement, I’ve barely even been able to interact with locals! So in that sense, I was more “eased” into the culture. Unlike one of my teammates who had to go to school and started early on with ministry work, I am only just now starting to get more hands on experience with the work I came here to do (though it’s still quite limited).
At the moment things are almost back to normal though. This said, I’ve had a bit more interaction with locals compared to the first couple months I’ve been here! So I’ve decided to share with all of you some culture shock moments from these past few months. Enjoy
- The other day it was one of my teammates birthdays and we went to an American restaurant. It was SO odd to hear English around me other than the conversations I was already having! It almost felt like I was eavesdropping on them since I could understand them
- Because of my ethnic appearance, I look like a local. So people will always speak to me in the local language, but I can only pick up small bits. And when they find out I’m American they always have the most surprised look, which I always love seeing, lol!!
- When I first ordered fruits and veggies at my local market (pictured above), I felt really stressed and also a bit dumb. Because I look like a local, I sometimes get the impression that people expect me to speak the local language better, or else I’ll just seem stupid. It’s gotten better after going several times, but this feeling still sometimes crosses my mind.
- Looking like a local can have its benefits though: when the city was more strict about taking everyones temperature, I remember there was one day they were only taking the temperature for foreigners, but because I don’t look like a foreigner, I skipped past the line !
- Crossing the street here still makes me really anxious. And the same is for when I’m in taxis. Drivers here don’t always use their blinker or stay in the lines. I’ve definitely become more alert as a pedestrian!
- WeChat is used for basically EVERYTHING here! (messaging people, paying for things, scanning QR codes, calling, etc.) and it’s totally normal to even add teachers on here! WeChat is even used for online classes!
- everything is so much cheaper here compared to back home in the US. for example, milk tea with grass jelly, 50% sugar, 50% ice (favorite boba order ) is only about $2!
- I remember my first car ride here from the airport to my apartment, my teammate was playing a Chr!stian song in the car, and I was SO surprised and I was wondering.. is this even allowed???? (yes, it definitely is)
These are all just a handful of culture shock moments, and I’m sure I’ll experience more as I’m just now starting to interact with locals more.
Also, you might notice that there aren’t too many negative experiences so far. I’ve learned that in regards to culture shock, everyone experiences and processes the transition differently (at a different pace, at a different time, more or less emotionally impacted, etc.) and that’s perfectly OK! :) everyone has been uniquely designed in His image, so we will all experience culture shock differently and I think that's really beautiful!!
In this time with new changes of having to be more at home, and be more around those that you live with, you may even be experiencing culture shock! And if you are, remember to acknowledge it, be gentle with yourself, and through it all He is with you and He is the ultimate Comforter.
Thank you all for tuning into another blog post. Stay safe out there