Culture Shock as defined by my mac dictionary says:
“culture shock – the feeling of disorientation experienced by someone who is suddenly subjected to an unfamiliar culture, way of life, or set of attitudes.”
This is something that we have (and still are) experienced here in China. Many people discount it’s effects, but it is an everyday part of our lives as we adjust here in China.
We first had slight “culture shock” when we started deputation. Though we didn’t move to a new country yet our way of life had majorly changed. We were still in the ministry and doing many of the same things but when you leave a ministry that you have been working so hard in you begin to feel not apart of anything. You are out of sight and out of mind from those you were closet to and feel no one cares, or that you don’t matter any longer. Was any of that true? Nope, but I believe it was culture shock at work.
The thing about culture shock is that you don’t really know when it is taking place. The feeling of disorientation cause you to think, say, and do crazy things. It is a lot easier to identify when you are looking back on it, more than when you are going through it.
Then we arrived on the field. Of course at first, excitement and adrenaline carry you through, but then life starts to settle in. We realized that the “ordinary” way of life is gone and we start feeling really disoriented. As we started to work through, learn, and adapt to this new way of life we came to the next hurdle, language.
Language, I am guessing no matter where you are, is a shocker. It opens the door for culture shock to come in and settle down. You ride the roller coaster of emotions, frustrations and headaches. Doubts, stress, and a feeling of being tired / burnt out starts to settle in. What it going on? Simple, Culture Shock!
Culture shock comes and goes. It effects some more than others. The important thing to know is that it happens and it can be overcome!