You’ve spent two weeks in a new country and the honeymoon phase is over! You start to realize there is more to this place than the pretty scenery. You are a little home-sick and cultural nuances are creating some questions and confusion – this is the Negotiation Stage of Culture Shock. This can make or break your extended holiday or your transition toward a new life in a new country. Normally this stage lasts about six months, but I have encountered people who never adapt.
How for example, could you have possibly known that citizens of a certain culture are possessive once you befriend them? That due to your friendly, carefree, touristy personality, especially if you are Canadian – you are now under surveillance. Your actions, comings and goings, are being monitored and scrutinized by your new friends’ friends, whom you’ve never met. That whispers about you and, “How you carry yourself“, are circumventing Barbados, the script of a soap opera and you are the lead actor?
And what’s up with the seemingly cranky merchant who doesn’t make eye contact in Asia? How would you know this is actually a respectful gesture in their culture? How could you know that in some countries such as Bermuda, they rely heavily on lineage to determine a person’s likability or trustworthiness? And that, if you choose to associate with a person who is not ‘link-able’ (has no ‘place’ in the cultural interpretation of the social scale) according to your Bermudian host, you may find your luggage outside on the step and the door locked when you try to return to your accommodations. You may find, such as I did, you will be sleeping in the back yard on a lawn chair teaming with curious lizards and other night creatures, bags emptied, wearing all of your clothes on your body to keep warm; wondering what the hell you did to end up in such a way …
Has culture shock ever interfered with your travel or relocation experience?