Culture shock can be defined as “a state of bewilderment and distress experienced by an individual who is suddenly exposed to a new, strange, or foreign social and cultural environment”. Were you aware that this could also be experienced when returning into your familiar social culture after being absent for a period of time. This could be as short as four months, and that is where my story comes into importance.
Four months of my summer vacation was spent in Xiaolan, Zhongshan, China. I was an English teacher in a private school for student’s grades 1-4. Oddly enough, my greatest challenge was in fact returning back to Thunder Bay Ontario. After being absent for this period of time my body and mind was used to a specific way of life and returning back into my own lifestyle was not easy.
The disgusting cold weather aside, I was in fact not used to being surrounded by so many people of the same race as I was. When I got back I refused to drive, work and leave my house. Getting back into my natural way of life was very difficult as well as stressful for me. The thing that scares me the most is that I was only gone for four months! It is scary to imagine the distress that comes from being away from six months or even years.
Needless to say, I was not expecting to be so greatly affected by this change of society coming home. I think my excitement and interest in going there in the first place protected me from the culture shock of China, but when I returned home my the excitement and interest has run dry.
You can never expect something to happen until it has happened to you. The degree of this “culture shock” can vary and some people who are lucky enough don’t even experience it. I am glad to have experienced it, and glad to have accomplished something so important to me.