Traveling is a great way to explore various cultures existing along with the globe. Crossing borders and exploring culture is an exciting opportunity for many people and getting an insight into their living and styles.
Yet, at the same time, it also comes with its own difficulties. We come across many cultural shocks. Today, I will throw some light on what are cultural shocks and how do people respond to them. So let’s start.
WHAT IS A CULTURAL SHOCK?
Cultural shock is the term that is used to describe the feelings of anxiety, anger, depression, and confusion that an individual may experience when confronted with a culture different from their own.
The term ‘cultural shock’ was coined by anthropologist Ruth Benedict in 1946 to describe “the shattering experience that follows upon removal from one culture into another.”https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/9781118339893.wbeccp141.
As one travels across country borders, they are subject to new rules, new norms, and new customs. It is most commonly experienced by people who spend a significant amount of time in a culture different from their own or who are emigrating to another country.
The degree of difference between one’s own values and those of the society in which one lives may affect how much impact cultural shock has on an individual.
CULTURAL SHOCK FOR TRAVELERS:
Secondly, it is often seen that the more different the cultures are between the traveler’s home country and their current travel destination, the greater the chance of experiencing a cultural shock.
This leads people to often feel out of place in their surroundings or even homesick for their old culture. As, a Muslim Asian, I can narrate a ton of examples where I too, was culturally shocked.
Back in the 1980s, one could witness the height of superiority of the whites against the colored nations. This, I viewed as a young me, at the Airport of U.S where I had traveled with my family for the first time and had to face cultural shocks at a very tender age. https://www.sabahataamir.com/inspirations/
EFFECTS OF SUDDEN IMMERSION IN A CULTURE:
Thirdly, cultural shocks happen when people are suddenly immersed in a culture that is very different from their own. Moving to a different country not only means learning the language, but also understanding the cultural norms and expectations. All of these can cause culture shock for ex-pats.
HOW TO AVOID CULTURAL SHOCKS:
Fourthly, if you’ve never traveled abroad before, you might be surprised by the cultural differences. People in other countries might do things differently than they would in their home country.
Such people might dress differently, eat different foods, and behave differently.
We are all aware of the various ways that people react to different cultures, but what is it that you can do to reduce or avoid these shocks?
TOUR GUIDE STUDY:
Fifthly, the best way is to study a tour guide regarding the culture of the required destination. That will save one from a lot of uninvited cultural shocks.
I remember, back in 2007, when I traveled to Turkey, Istanbul, all I knew about it was that its a Muslim country. I encountered a lot of unique differences and made a lot of life lasting friends.
And as a matter of fact, during my short stay, I learned bits of Turkish too, as the movement in Turkey is greatly affected if one is not conversant in the language.
I had a guide arranged for me and he showed me around and helped me in learning chunks of the language.
Another cultural shock that I had was that I expected the women to wear shalwar kameez but every other woman, I came across wearing a long skirt or coat and mostly covered their heads with a hijab.
As a matter of fact, they were rather surprised to see what I wore as they had never seen that dress and took great interest in its making.
Keeping the culture of my country in view, I expected to witness the same while traveling. I felt the people be more open in terms of expressions and praise as well as hospitality.
Sixthly, sometimes, cultural shocks arise due to an emotional upheaval that happens when you come into contact with a culture that is very different from the one you are used to.
It is most common when people travel abroad for business or pleasure. You can experience culture shock because of a difference in languages or a difference in the way people do things in that country.
One thing that came as a cultural shock was to witness the increase in the number of women, who were empowered at nearly every place and business.; Something, I failed to witness in my own homeland.