Friday, September 18, 2009

Culture Shock

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.


  1. Chelsea, this was really interesting to read. It sounds really strange to experience something like that, especially since your culture shock happened when you returned home. I liked that you said the excitement of going to China helped to curb the culture shock you experienced when going there. I was kind of questioning why you didn't experience it when going to China, but that really helped to explain it. I think this could have been longer to help develop how you felt, because it seems like it was a complex feeling that definately could have been described in more than a few paragraphs. Interesting!

  2. Chelsea, I really enjoyed reading your blog and laughing at the truth behind it. I loved how you twisted the idea of culture shock in what one assumes to be familiar surroundings but does not feel that way. I could completely relate to being in culture shock when returning home from a trip, even it was for a short time. Before reading your blog I never defined it as culture shock but now feel that there is no better way to describe it. Great job!

  3. I agree with Cassie, in that I liked how you looked at this topic from a different perspective then might have normally been taken (culture shock returning home instead of going away). This made it interesting and novel idea (always funner to read!). I think it's really cool that you got to visit somewhere as exotic as China, it was surprising to hear that returning home for you was more of a challenge: it's a perspective I wouldn't have even thought of. In that way it makes for a really interesting piece.
    I'm also happy that you added that you were "glad" you experienced your culture shock, because it shows that even though you had a challenging expierience, it was still worth it.
    I also agree with Whitney in that since it was such an interesting take on an idea, it would have been nice to see it expanded.

    (This is what happens when you comment 3rd: you agree with everyone.)

    Nice job :)

  4. I think this is a great idea (but like other people said) needed more. What happened in China? What was it like? I've never been and that would have been really cool to read. Why didn't you drive? I really liked the idea, but I also wanted more. There's a small typo in the first paragraph.

    Were you aware that this could also be experienced when returning into your familiar social culture after being absent for a period of time.

    I think it should have a question mark at the end.

    Cool post though. :)