Friday, February 28, 2014

Culture Shock Wave Model

It doesn’t matter who you are, where you are going, or the length of stay, but when you travel abroad for more than a month, you are told that life will follow a culture shock wave model. First will be the honeymoon stage: everything will be exciting and new, and it will seem like you are on top of the world. Then, at some point, you will reach a low. Life will seem difficult, for whatever reason(s). Lastly, life will even out. You will accept where you are and know what life really holds. However, this isn’t true.

According to Catherine, culture shock comes in waves daily. You might wake up happy, something might happen that brings you down and then something else brings you back up. I haven’t experienced culture shock in either of these ways, though. Instead, as I was exhausted yesterday, I began to feel down. For those of you that know me, you understand that not speaking is impossible for me. So, speaking minimally for several hours meant something was off, but I couldn’t figure out what it was.

As I sat on a bus toward downtown to buy bus tickets for tomorrow’s trip to Porto Alegre, I realized that more than anything I missed Antigua, Guatemala. I missed walking down the street and having a panaderĂ­a and cafĂ© on every block. I missed the food found in Guatemala. And more than anything else, I missed being able to communicate competently with others. So, my first culture shock wave came not because I missed the U.S., but because I missed Guatemala. Although I know my battle with this culture shock wave isn´t over yet, I know my Portuguese is improving from nothing to something, and that I have great friends to help me work through the tough times!

Luan helping me work through tough times!

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