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Saturday, June 6, 2015

What Could Give You Culture Shock

Culture shock doesn't happen to everyone, but when it happens it can be very hard to overcome. I never experienced culture shock myself or have had friends who experienced it, but I know it can really ruin a good trip and what was supposed to be a good time.

Culture shock is when someone goes into another culture they are not familiar with and is shocked about the differences from their own culture. You'll start to panic. This can be mentally painful and very stressful to someone.

Now, if I could've gotten culture shock I can think of four things that would cause it.

1. The People and Language

I live in America. More specifically, I live in New Orleans, Louisiana. We have a little nickname for the city of New Orleans called the gumbo bowl. Now the contents in a gumbo dish is a bunch of different seafood. That's what it's like in the city. It's a bunch a different people living in one city. So to go from this kind of life to Japan, where there's mostly going to be Japanese people speaking mostly Japanese, can be very intimidating and will cause reason for panic. Japan is not a diverse country and to Americans it can be stressful not seeing what's familiar to you.

2. Transportation

In America, we run on cars. Almost everyone owns a car. A car is essential for the way we live life. It takes us to work, let's us go on vacations, and overall, gets us where we want to go at any time. This may not apply to northern states who have subway systems, but down south it's a part of our daily lives. In Japan it's different. They run on public transportation. Yes, there are cars around but there are way more people using subways, trains, and buses than people using cars. And why not use good resources if it's given to you? So seeing Japan function through public transportation can cause culture shock. Go to a train station in Tokyo in the morning work hours. That alone could give you culture shock. It's pretty much a bunch of people crowding onto the train and train attendants pushing people in. It can be seen as chaotic and bizarre, but it works for them. Another thing you'll see are people walking and biking, the cheaper of all transportation. If you stay in one city at a time while in Japan you'll probably be walking or biking to places yourself.

3. Restaurants

What can go wrong with going to a restaurant in Japan? If you're familiar with Japanese culture you already know that the people working are polite and strive for the best strive they can give. There's even a no tipping policy! But what you may not know is that there's no such thing as leftovers. In America, New Orleans specifically, your meals are huge! The food is practically falling off the plate. You go out to eat already knowing you're not going to finish your meal unless you are super hungry that day. There's nothing to worry about though because you know the server will ask if you need a to-go box. In Japan there's no such thing as a to-go box. It is expected that you eat all your food. This is not a hard task because the meals you buy are perfectly portioned. The only way it can go wrong is if you purchase too much thinking you need more food. A way to avoid this is to order as you eat. If you're done your first dish and still hungry you can order more food. Another thing about restaurants that can be surprising is if you visit a more traditional restaurant. At these restaurants you are most likely going to be taking off your shoes and possibly sitting on the ground. This can be very uncomfortable for some people but it's not that bad if you just give it a try.

4. Going Up

What I mean by going up is that Japan works by floors. Japan is a tiny country with a big population, especially in the cities. It is not common for people to have their own house. Most people live in apartments that have many floors. The same can be said for business establishments. Say you went on your phone looking up nail salons in Tokyo, Japan. You found the address of one and decided to go check it out. You come to a tall building that houses many establishments. It can get pretty frustrating and difficult trying to find this place. There are even restaurants that are in these multi level buildings. Try not to get impatient, you'll be able to find where you want to go if you pay close attention to signs and advertisements.

Those are the ways I feel most people would get culture shock. I hope this helps some people. I would like to advice that the best way to overcome culture shock is to study up on the culture before traveling and to accept their way of life. That is the reason why I have never experienced culture shock. 
If you have experienced culture shock please share. I'd love to hear your stories. If you have any further questions on this subject please don't hesitate to ask. Until next time!