Feeling upside down? You might have culture shock.

Day 9: Expat Blog Challenge: "'Expat Syndrome' is a condition whereby many expatriates see mostly either the best of their own nationality and the worst of the locals, or see the opposite." - T. Crossley


Today's prompt is to address the quote, "'Expat Syndrome' is a condition whereby many expatriates see mostly either the best of their own nationality and the worst of the locals, or see the opposite." by T. Crossley

In my experience, this statement can be a very true statement! If you don't believe me - just for fun, head over to an American expat forum - and make a very mundane comment such as, "I really don't like the cheese in Australia. Where can I get some American cheese?" Sit back & watch the fireworks. ***Your responses might look something like this...***

You think I am kidding, right? Maybe, just a little. But, seriously I have read similar posts. Perhaps, it's just the forums I choose to associate with - but, I doubt that.

This phenomena is really nothing more than culture shock. Literally, a symptom of culture shock is to over-value your own culture & de-value your host country's culture. (I suppose it could go the other way as well. I'm gonna be honest on this one. I am sure the scholarly literature on the subject exists - but, I did not go above and beyond researching the subject matter for this blog post.)

So, have I experienced this to be true for myself? Yes, indeed I have, but it's not gonna be what you think. Junior year of college - I studied abroad. My college really valued the study abroad experience and took a special effort to prepare their students for the challenge. In addition to actually applying and qualifying for the adventure - you were also expected to read literature about culture shock & attend lectures on the subject matter.

I was so excited about studying abroad. I was diligent. I read every piece of literature they gave me. I was going to be prepared for this culture shock thing, gosh darn it! Except in the course of reading the material I had a realization, I already had culture shock! 

How could this be? I was attending college, in the USA, in my home state as a matter of fact. Well friends, culture is much more than just one's nationality. Sure, I grew up an hour and half away from from where I attended college - but, honestly the two felt worlds apart to me. One's socio-economic status plays a big part in one's culture.

I was born in small town - in rural Michigan to a working class family. My parents were hard working factory workers. I loved to learn & was excited to go to college. My parents always encouraged me to go to college so I could fulfill my dreams of being whatever the heck it was I wanted to be. They never told me that when I got there, I was gonna think everyone was a bunch of rich little brats.

My cohorts were mostly from suburban upper middle class families. Our upbringings were just different. It's difficult to express just how different our lives had been up to that point. In a nutshell (and generalizations), I was greatly appreciative of the opportunity college provided to me. They felt it was an obligation - something they must do - they didn't appreciate it. I worked 20 hours a week so I could make monthly payments to cover the costs that my loans & grants didn't. They didn't have to work, did they? They would say such ignorant things about the poor - my heart would set fire - and I would rage.

I was young & naive in a lot of ways. I was only used to my small corner of the world. I recall my puzzlement when I first heard a fellow student speaking ill of labor unions. I honestly didn't know there were people out there that were against labor unions (I mean other than the actual oppressors of the big bad past.)

Long story short... I was surrounded by a new culture... and I was in shock. I started to over value my own culture (salt of the earth - working class) and devalued their culture (privileged - upper middle class) I unfairly hated them - before I ever got a chance to know them - because they were rich & spoiled. I'm sure I missed out on becoming friends with some great people because of it.

I was amazed to find out what I was experiencing was culture shock... and even more amazed to find that when I went to live in Scotland to study I did not actually experience any culture shock. I had already been through the ringer - lived through culture shock long & hard back in the States - and to tell you the truth I found the transition to Scotland much smoother. Go figure.

And now... cause I know you're curious... I'll include some pictures of my hometown of Reed City, Michigan & my college town of Holland, MI.


 Reed City, MI, USA

H&D Chuckwagon: My Very First Job

We have lakes. Reed City, MI


This is what the country looks like.  Reed City, MI

Nartron: A factory in Reed City

Winter in RC


Sunset in RC

Holland, MI, USA

8th Street, Holland, MI

Voorhees Hall. I used to live there. Holland, MI, USA

Lake Michigan, Holland, MI

DeZwaan - The Windmill. Holland, MI, USA

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Sydney Smiles: Feeling upside down? You might have culture shock.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Feeling upside down? You might have culture shock.

Day 9: Expat Blog Challenge: "'Expat Syndrome' is a condition whereby many expatriates see mostly either the best of their own nationality and the worst of the locals, or see the opposite." - T. Crossley


Today's prompt is to address the quote, "'Expat Syndrome' is a condition whereby many expatriates see mostly either the best of their own nationality and the worst of the locals, or see the opposite." by T. Crossley

In my experience, this statement can be a very true statement! If you don't believe me - just for fun, head over to an American expat forum - and make a very mundane comment such as, "I really don't like the cheese in Australia. Where can I get some American cheese?" Sit back & watch the fireworks. ***Your responses might look something like this...***

  • "Ugh!! I know! Why is everything such a weird color??? Gimme Kraft singles any day!"
  • "Try out the shop next to XYZ train station. They sometimes carry American cheeses."
  • "If you hate Australian cheeses so much why don't you just move back to 'Murica already?"
  • "Don't even get me started. I would literally kill for a jar of Cheese Whiz. Australian cheese is the devil."
  • "Wow. Since, I've moved to Australia I've tried so many wonderful cheeses! I LOOOVE Australian cheese! American cheese is disgusting! Cheese whiz? Seriously? I tried that once, and puked my guts out for three days. Never again. P.S. I hate America. I will NEVER go back!!! Australia is sooo much better. My life is exactly 1 million times better here than in the US. Australia is my forever home!!!"
You think I am kidding, right? Maybe, just a little. But, seriously I have read similar posts. Perhaps, it's just the forums I choose to associate with - but, I doubt that.

This phenomena is really nothing more than culture shock. Literally, a symptom of culture shock is to over-value your own culture & de-value your host country's culture. (I suppose it could go the other way as well. I'm gonna be honest on this one. I am sure the scholarly literature on the subject exists - but, I did not go above and beyond researching the subject matter for this blog post.)

So, have I experienced this to be true for myself? Yes, indeed I have, but it's not gonna be what you think. Junior year of college - I studied abroad. My college really valued the study abroad experience and took a special effort to prepare their students for the challenge. In addition to actually applying and qualifying for the adventure - you were also expected to read literature about culture shock & attend lectures on the subject matter.

I was so excited about studying abroad. I was diligent. I read every piece of literature they gave me. I was going to be prepared for this culture shock thing, gosh darn it! Except in the course of reading the material I had a realization, I already had culture shock! 

How could this be? I was attending college, in the USA, in my home state as a matter of fact. Well friends, culture is much more than just one's nationality. Sure, I grew up an hour and half away from from where I attended college - but, honestly the two felt worlds apart to me. One's socio-economic status plays a big part in one's culture.

I was born in small town - in rural Michigan to a working class family. My parents were hard working factory workers. I loved to learn & was excited to go to college. My parents always encouraged me to go to college so I could fulfill my dreams of being whatever the heck it was I wanted to be. They never told me that when I got there, I was gonna think everyone was a bunch of rich little brats.

My cohorts were mostly from suburban upper middle class families. Our upbringings were just different. It's difficult to express just how different our lives had been up to that point. In a nutshell (and generalizations), I was greatly appreciative of the opportunity college provided to me. They felt it was an obligation - something they must do - they didn't appreciate it. I worked 20 hours a week so I could make monthly payments to cover the costs that my loans & grants didn't. They didn't have to work, did they? They would say such ignorant things about the poor - my heart would set fire - and I would rage.

I was young & naive in a lot of ways. I was only used to my small corner of the world. I recall my puzzlement when I first heard a fellow student speaking ill of labor unions. I honestly didn't know there were people out there that were against labor unions (I mean other than the actual oppressors of the big bad past.)

Long story short... I was surrounded by a new culture... and I was in shock. I started to over value my own culture (salt of the earth - working class) and devalued their culture (privileged - upper middle class) I unfairly hated them - before I ever got a chance to know them - because they were rich & spoiled. I'm sure I missed out on becoming friends with some great people because of it.

I was amazed to find out what I was experiencing was culture shock... and even more amazed to find that when I went to live in Scotland to study I did not actually experience any culture shock. I had already been through the ringer - lived through culture shock long & hard back in the States - and to tell you the truth I found the transition to Scotland much smoother. Go figure.

And now... cause I know you're curious... I'll include some pictures of my hometown of Reed City, Michigan & my college town of Holland, MI.


 Reed City, MI, USA

H&D Chuckwagon: My Very First Job

We have lakes. Reed City, MI


This is what the country looks like.  Reed City, MI

Nartron: A factory in Reed City

Winter in RC


Sunset in RC

Holland, MI, USA

8th Street, Holland, MI

Voorhees Hall. I used to live there. Holland, MI, USA

Lake Michigan, Holland, MI

DeZwaan - The Windmill. Holland, MI, USA

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4 Comments:

At February 9, 2014 at 10:46 PM , Blogger C. In Oz said...

That is such a good point about culture shock. Now that you point it out, I think I've suffered the same moving from my suburban upbringing to the oh-so-very-Southern town and college I went to. My family lives in that town now, and I get that fire-rage quite often when I visit. It's tough to let go.
Also, the expat forums impression is everything. Just everything. The last one, in particular.

 
At February 10, 2014 at 1:49 PM , OpenID plungedownunder.com said...

This is such a great response to the expat syndrome quote. Participating in expat forums has been on my to-do list for months now, but maybe I will give it a miss! I loved seeing your photos of Michigan. It's a beautiful state, and I often visited Holland as a kid---the tulip festival, of course, and also I remember a light show on the water. How interesting that you had more culture shock going to uni than living in Scotland. Do you think your college experience helped to prepare you for moving overseas?

 
At February 10, 2014 at 3:13 PM , Blogger Samantha said...

Thanks, C. So funny how culture shock is so real & can happen when we move around within our own country.

 
At February 10, 2014 at 3:29 PM , Blogger Samantha said...

Lol. Haha. The forums can be very helpful, but be prepared for an occasional trip down the rabbit hole. It's not always drama - just occasional flare ups. I really do think my college experience & culture shock helped prepare me for moving overseas - I kinda felt like after that I could handle anything - especially after what I realized what I was experiencing was culture shock.

 

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