Re: Pluck and Culture Change

Holly Swyers (nesn-info@CCE.ORG)
Thu, 2 May 1996 16:10:05 GMT

On May 2, Thomas Brunton writes:
A single person who leaves home and moves to an area where people exhibit
different cultural behavior, will not instantly be able to perfectly
emulate them. Where is her culture, if not inside her head?
=========end quote=======

There is something "chicken and egg" like about this particular thread which
prevents me from putting together a coherent response or comment. This
example by Thomas Brunton, along with previous mention of "culture shock,"
makes me ask a curious question (please feel free to opine off-list on this
one, I don't know if it really informs this debate). I noticed during the
time that I spent overseas that the culture shock I felt _returning_ to the
U.S. was far greater than than which I experienced when I first found myself
in a different culture. I have spoken to several other people who have spent
significant amounts of time in other cultures and they describe the same
feeling. I have explained this to myself as a discrepancy in expectation.
Since I knew I was entering a foreign culture when I left the U.S., I was
prepared for culture shock. After a year in that "foreign culture," I had
mythified "home" and expected to find everything as I "remembered "it. I did
not anticipate that my expectations of other people's behavior had been so
tempered by my time in another culture that I would not be able to negotiate
the U.S. in the same way as I had before I left. My culture shock coming
home was profound and far more memorable than any culture shock I felt
leaving the U.S. My questions are these: am I right in my analysis of what
happened? Has anyone else experienced the homecoming culture shock, and how
have you explained it? Could this kind of reverse culture shock be peculiar
to certain cultures? Is culture shock itself peculiar to certain cultures?
Is it possible to become so removed from your original culture that it
becomes completely foreign to you? In our increasingly "global" community,
what kind of cultures are growing up devoid of a physical home or nation?
And finally, at what point has a culture changed so much that it is a "new"

Just some of the thoughts wandering around in my head today. Thanks for
"...for there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so."
-William Shakespeare in _Hamlet_ II,ii,247-48