UNIT 9 Welcoming
Integrated Skills Development
Passage Culture Shock
When a person moves from one culture to another, he suddenly finds that much of what he has learned about interpreting the actions of people around him is suddenly irrelevant. He finds that the strategies he has used to influence people or events in certain ways are no longer effective, and the assumptions that guided his understandings and reactions are no longer reliable. Even distinguishing between the significant and the insignificant in a given situation becomes difficult, if not impossible.
This sudden psychological transition from competent adult to ineffective child inevitably results in the serious impact of the individual's feelings of self-worth. He experiences feelings of frustration and helplessness. In short, he experiences culture shock.
Culture shock is the result of the removal of the familiar. Suddenly the individual is faced with the necessity of working, commuting, studying, eating, shopping, relaxing, even sleeping, in an unfamiliar environment organized according to unknown rules. In mild form, culture shock shows itself in symptoms of fatigue, irritability and impatience. Being unable to interpret the situations in which they find themselves, people often believe they are being deliberately deceived or exploited by host-country nationals. They tend to perceive rudeness where none is intended. Their efficiency and flexibility is often impaired and both work and family suffer. Some people may respond by developing negative stereotypes of the host culture, by refusing to learn the language and by mixing exclusively with people of their own cultural background. In extreme cases, rejection may be so complete that the individual returns immediately to their own culture, regardless of the cost in social, economic or personal terms. Alternatively, people may retreat into their own private world, either mentally or physically.
Physical symptoms of culture shock may include headaches, stomachaches, constant fatigue, difficulty in sleeping and a general feeling of uneasiness. Unfortunately, many doctors are unfamiliar with culture shock and attempt to treat the symptoms rather than the cause.
The important thing to recognize about culture shock is that it is universal. It is experienced to a greater or lesser degree by all those who move from one culture to another. Experiencing culture shock does not mean that an individual is inflexible or unadaptable. It does mean that recognition of its inevitability can lead to the development of steps to reduce its impact.
New Words and Expressions
be faced with
be unfamiliar with
to a greater or lesser degree
A, B and C were boasting about how fast trains went in their countries.
A said: "In my country trains go so fast that the telegraph poles along the line look like a garden fence."
B said: "At home trains go so fast that we have to pour water on the wheels, otherwise they would get white-hot（白热化的）and melted（熔化）."
"That's nothing," said C, "I was once travelling in my country and my daughter came to the platform to see me off. While I was getting into the train it started. I leaned out of the window to kiss her, and kissed instead a farmer in a field six miles away."