Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Israel/Palestine Trip Part 3: Culture Shock

If you have ever been out of the country, you will be quick to agree with me that a change in surroundings, culture, language, religion can be, 'how do you say...' a bit stressful. This is a fact I have found to be true in many different situations, and in many different countries around the world. For example...

I remember enduring stress as fifteen year old, when my family took our first out-of-the-country trip to Argentina to visit with my grandfather and relatives for a few weeks. I had been taking Spanish to help prepare, but found myself longing for home, my friends, and familiar ways of doing things. Everything was 'weird' and it didn't take long for me to be counting the days until departure for SC.

After graduating college, two weeks after 9/11, I had a chance to visit friends in Austria and the Czech Republic. For the first hour that I was in Europe, I think I cried, worried, and almost peed my pants while a taxi driver whom I was convinced was really part of the Austrian Mafia ready to take me to a schnitzel house and slit my throat tried to figure out where he was supposed to take me through a language barrier. (Note: for more details on this story, please inquire personally).

My journal entry from my first mission trip to Sri Lanka is complete with drawings of streets with cows, rickshaws, bicycles, people, and mud...my first experience there involved the Missions Director praying over me so I wouldn't get carsick (I had never dealt with motion sickness before) and me just barely making it to the toilet in the lobby of the hotel before losing my airplane breakfast.

I could go on....I may be boring you. Am I boring you????

Well, for your time's sake and mine, I'll fast forward to this experience in Israel/Palestine, and would like to share a little bit of wisdom and knowledge that I have obtained from my way-too-expensive Master's Degree in Cross Cultural Studies and Leadership Development...

Culture Shock is a very real issue that people must deal with not only when they arrive in a host country, but also sometimes when they return home.

Some symptoms of culture shock:
  • Heightened irritabilty
  • Constant complaints
  • Criticism of people & culture
  • Preoccupation of being robbed or cheated
  • Refusal to learn language
  • Utopian ideas of home culture
  • Preoccupation with going home

A lot of culture shock

I'll suffice it to say that we have been experiencing some culture shock within our 'team' and need a little extra time and space. But that is NORMAL and OKAY. Ah, the joys of traveling.

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