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2b Culture Shock-The Initial Stresses.doc.doc

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2b Culture Shock-The Initial Stresses.doc.doc

Unit2TextBCultureShock–TheInitialStressesMyfriendDr.DonghadawonderfulchancetogotoSeattletopresentapaperataprofessionalmeeting.HavingattendedmycourseinInterculturalCommunications,heconsultedmetoreviewsomeoftheculturaldifferenceshemightexperience.Ialsogavehimthephonenumberofafriendofminewholivedinthearea.Whenhegotback,wemettoreviewhisexperience.Dr.Dongtoldmethatthecourseinformationhadhelpedhim.Heexperiencedthetypicalstagesofcultureshock.Hearrivedexpectantandhappyandenjoyedhisfirstdaysverymuch.Atthemedicalconference,hefeltquiteconfidentofhisareaofresearchandwasabletoperformwellinhispresentation.Butafterafewdays,hebegantofeeluncomfortable.HismedicalEnglishwasfine,butthesocialinteractionskillsweredifferent,andhewasunsureofthecuesandthecommunicationstyles.HeworriedmoreandmorethathewasmisunderstandingsimpleEnglishgreetingsandtabletalkconventions.Whenpeoplegreetedhimwhit,Hi,howsitgoinghethoughttheyhadaskedhimwhereareyougoingandansweredwiththenameoftheconferencehall,onlytogetaconfusedstarefromthem.Atawesternstyledinner,acolleagueasked,SohowreyouenjoyintheStateshethoughthehead,Sohowareyouenjoyingyoursteakandansweredthathewashavingchicken,notbeef.Thattime,hiscolleaguesmiled,andpatientlyrepeatedthequestion.Atlast,theybothlaughedattheerror.Suchfailuresinunderstandingsandcommunicationswereminor.ButforDr.Dong,theywerethebeginningofasenseofculturalconfusion.Bytheendofthemeetings,hefeltadeepsenseofculturalstressandwaswornoutfromhavingtopayattentiontosomanynewexpressionsandwaysofdealingwiththings.HefelthishandshakewasnotasfirmasAmericans,foundthatpeoplereactedunusuallywhenhemodestlyinsistedhisEnglishwasnotgoodaftertheycomplimentedhim,didntknowhowtoacceptdinnerinvitationsproperlyandthereforemissedoutongoingtoseverallunches,andsoon.Eventually,hewassobewilderedthathefeltthefullimpactofcultureshock.WhatiscultureshockandwhydoesitoccurThetermwascoinedabout50yearsagobyaSwedishscholar.Hisseminalarticle,CultureShockAdjustmenttoNewCulturalEnvironmentshasbeenreprintedandrevisedformanytextbooksandmagazines.Hecalledittheoccupationaldiseaseofpeoplewhohavebeensuddenlytransplantedabroad.Hisuseoftheworddiseaseisapun,becauseitimpliesthatitislikeanillnesswithitsownsymptomsandcure,butalsothattherootcauseisalsoafeelingofdiseaseorunsettleduneasiness.Thinkbackonyourownexperience.HaveyouevermovedfromonecontexttoanotherManystudentsfeelthisadjustmentshockwhentheychangefromoneschooltoanother,ormorefromasmalltowntoabigcity.ThesensationsonefeelsinnewsurroundingsoftenincludeFeelinglikeanoutsider,feelingunsureofoneselforevenfeelingstupidSensingthatoneslanguageskillsarentgoodenough,missingjokes,colloquialphrases,referencestoTVshowsorpopsongsorotherculturalinsiderinformationFeelinguneasyandunsettled,irritableandincreasinglyshorttemperedFeelinglonelyandwantingtogohome,feelingmoreandmorelikeastrangeroroutcastFeelingoverwhelmed,overloaded,daydreaming,staringblanklyatthingsorevenstaringatnothingBecomingmoreandmoreafraidofcommunicatingandofmakingmistakes,worried,anxious.Theseareallsymptomsofinitialcultureshock.Whitanewcontextcomesnewwaysofdoingthings.Beinguninitiatedandunsureofwhattodo,peopleusuallyhaveastrongsenseofdisplacementinthebeginning.Butthegoodnewsisthatwehumansareverygoodatadapting.Thoughalmostallofusundergosomedegreeifmentalstressinthisperiod,afterafewweeksormonths,welearnhowtoreadournewcontext.Webecomeawareofthenewcues,thenewexpectations,andthenewwaysofcommunicating.Withsometrialsanderrors,andwithalotofpatiencewithourselves,mostofussucceedinovercomingcultureshockandlearntoenjoyournewcontext.Dr.DongsvisittoUSwasonlythreeweekslong,butbytheendofthefivedaymedicalconference,hewasalreadystartingtofeelmoreconfident.Surehefeltalittlefoolishaboutsomeofthemistakeshehadmade,buthequicklylearnedtolaughathiserrorsandfoundthathiscolleaguessmiledwithhim.Thisbrokedownthebarrierstocommunicationandhelpedhimbuildsomegoodprofessionalrelationships.Andaftertheconference,hecontactedthefamilyIhadreferredhimtoandhadaverynicetimevisitingthem.Thereweresomenewculturalsurprises,buthediscoveredhecouldbetterunderstandandadapttothem.BythetimehereturnedtoChina,hewasfeelingquitepositiveabouthisAmericantrip,andwasgladforthenewexperiencesandnewskillsithadgivenhim.Hehadbecomesuccessfulintheinitialperiodinanewculture.Thoughhehadgonethroughsomeembarrassingculturestresses,eachhadproventobeavaluablelearningexperience,andintheendhadhelpedhimovercomehiscultureshock.

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