03 February 2011


The program director gave us a packet of handy information the first day of Orientation, including a lengthy guide (at least twelve pages long) to “Culture Shock,” with a follow up chapter on a “Prescription for Culture Shock,” that, for three pages, explained why having a sense of humor is healthy. Whoever wrote those pages is a chump, and whoever didn’t realize that having a sense of humor is healthy is also a chump. Here's a useful section:
“Here is a list of some of the symptoms that may be observed in relatively severe cases of culture shock:
Need for excessive amounts of sleep
Compulsive eating
Exaggerated cleanliness
Marital stress
Hostility to host nationals
Psychosomatic Illness
Unexplainable fits of weeping”
The guide goes on to explain very seriously that culture shock, in various degrees, is somewhat inevitable. It can happen to anyone. It can strike at any moment. No one is safe. 

The culture that's shocking me
What this guide has done is make me paranoid. I made my bed this morning (haphazardly, I might add, because I really don’t know how to properly make a bed since I never went to summer camp or joined the Army) and then had to question my motives. Before I pulled the blankets to the top of the mattress I paused, lost in thought. I looked down at the sheet in my hands with horror and shame, and I asked myself with the same sinking feeling that I imagine would occur if a baby cherub came to me and told me I had Chlamydia, “Does this qualify as excessive cleanliness? Is this culture shock? Dear God, what’s happening to me?” I also got up early and organized my desk and wardrobe before doing homework. Am I, too, a victim of culture shock? Is that excessive cleaning? Is this one of those situations that you never think will happen to you? Should I not make my bed? Additionally, I was very tired yesterday. Culture shock, or the result of going to bed at 6 a.m. Sunday morning and needing to catch up on rest? Obviously a severe symptom of culture shock. Shit. I'm doomed. Here, look at more shocking cultural photos:

I unfortunately don't live in this neighborhood, but isn't it nice?
Flamenco en una cueva de Sacramonte!

1 comment:

  1. Culture shock, initially, is horrible. After a time though, you learn so much more about yourself and your world view expands immensely.