Re: culture shock

John Pastore (venture@CANCUN.RCE.COM.MX)
Fri, 3 May 1996 02:02:00 +0000

On 3 May 96 at 10:31, L. D Mouer wrote:

> There is something especially wierd about the first trip to a
> supermarket after coming home.

You've got that right. Can you imagine my surprise when a car started
talking to me to tell me to fasten the seat belt, go to a gas station
where the pump told me to get the gas myself, after first paying a
woman behind a window where nearby people were sticking cards into a
brick wall getting money? And I hadn't even gotten to the
supermarket yet!
> 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."

It is greener on the other side.

...We expect
> to be among strangers in "the field," and we expect to be "at home"
> when we come back.

Being strangers in a strange land is strange, but not quite as much
when learning just how much of a stranger you really may be to your
own when arriving home.

... 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.

When I was living on Isla Mujeres I used to write post cards to
myself toward the end of the stay. They would say "Dear John, Having
a great time!!! Wish you were here!!! Saludos, John. About three
months after arriving back home, the postcards would start arriving,
and, sure enough, I wasn't heading for the supermarket anymore.

Have fun...

Ka Xiik Keech Ya Utzil,

John Pastore
Writer/Guide in 'El Mayab'
("The Mayan Homeland")