Thursday, November 22, 2007

When travel's a shock

Just read a great piece over at Brave New Traveler about the four stages of culture shock. Writer Ross Tabak summed the kind of experiences you might have while living in a foreign country or traveling long-term as coming in this order: "wonder, frustration, depression and acceptance".

In a way I've been lucky with each of the long trips or live-in stints I've done in foreign countries, having long periods of wonder, the odd instance of frustration and then straight through to acceptance. Whether it's part of my personality, the luck of having good experiences of some combination of the two, I've had much more trouble with reverse culture shock (what happens when you arrive "home") than the original version. But I did love one of Ross's definitions:
I often tell people that culture shock is is walking out the door, being greeted by a neighbor and wanting nothing more than to shout obscenities at them.
Now that I can relate to, and anyone who knows the story of the neighbour who wrote an anonymous letter of complaint to me within a week of me moving to my new flat can imagine why.

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