Cheryl, a veteran in trying to make a home in a foreign country (Uganda), is back in the States with her family for a break. She has a short post on the experience of culture stress… something that is inevitably on our horizon somewhere in the next few years. I encourage you to take a second and check it out.
I think it is officially called… Culture Stress. And it occurs both when entering a new culture and when re-entering your home culture.
Culture stress for me looks a little bit like handing a ballerina a pair of army boots and telling her to dance. What was once delicate, graceful and coordinated…becomes clunky, messy and kinda funny to watch.
Jessica and I probably won’t experience anything close to a full dose of culture stress during our time Taiwan (coming or going), because our job necessarily puts us in a bit of a culturally diluted bubble. We spend 9 hours a day working in English, with Taiwanese people who speak English and are familiar with the West. And our living standards, while maybe modest by North American standards, are definitely in the top-half of Taiwan society. No doubt that brings incalculable amounts of shame on our ‘intercultural studies’ professors – but it’s temporary, we promise! We’re still in school!
If/when we live into our long-term plans, we’ll be basically be asking for culture stress – lots of it… practically begging for it. But for now, unfortunately, we have it relatively easy thanks to the ever-present language bubble.