Re: culture shock

L. D Mouer (dmouer@FELIX.VCU.EDU)
Fri, 3 May 1996 10:31:10 EDT

Holly Swyers observation on the culture shock of "coming home" is
probably something most anthropologists can identify with. I've
noticed it even on rather short trips to India or Latin America.
There is something especially wierd about the first trip to a
supermarket after coming home. My reaction is even stronger than the
first time I found myself in an open-air market in Southeast Asia,
with all its sights, smells, and sounds. Why CAN'T I bargain over the
price of over-ripe bananas at Safeway?

Some explanation may lie in the fact of being trained in
anthropology. Most of us, I would guess, are ill at ease in our "own"
culture anyway, thus we are attracted to "others." We expect to be
among strangers in "the field," and we expect to be "at home" when we
come back. The culture shock is, as Swyers suggests, a clask of
expectations. Which, I suspect, is also why many of us feel the need
to return to "the field" within weeks or months of coming home.

Dan M.