Prior to attending Stevenson, I thought of myself as diverse, understanding and relatable, due to my experiences from home. Being from the DC, Maryland and Virginia metropolitan area, there are many ethnicities and cultures that I grew up learning about and accepting. I never thought I would experience culture shock, until I began to notice a difference when I began college.
According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, culture shock is “a sense of confusion and uncertainty sometimes with feelings of anxiety that may affect people exposed to an alien culture or environment without adequate preparation.”
Despite being from a diverse area, I knew that there was still much to learn from other cultures and ethnicities. I began to put my knowledge to the test as I engaged and conversed with my fellow classmates at Stevenson. As months went by, at times I felt out of place as though my friends didn’t understand me. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was experiencing culture shock.
In my communication classes, I learned that the chances of an individual of any culture experiencing culture shock can rise when the person’s environment changes. My environment changed drastically as I went from a highly diverse area to a campus where the majority were Caucasians and African Americans.
Culture shock can have negative effects on an individual, causing stress, anxiety, loneliness, depression and homesickness. Not only can it affect an individual’s health, but it can also begin to show in work, school and personal lives.
Ultimately, I began feeling homesick and needed to go back home every now and then to be with my friends and family. I had to find a balance between the cultures at home and those at school. I found myself trying to adopt a different culture that wasn’t mine. I began realizing the issues that I faced and tried to fix the situation by applying what I’ve learned in the classroom.
I began embracing my own roots and wanting to do more cultural things. As I began embracing my culture, I began to notice my morale improved. Although the effects of culture shock weren’t terribly drastic for me, they had the potential to become a bigger problem.
Culture shock is more common than people think. It is okay to feel homesick and out of place. As individuals, we must convey our own culture to the world and make sure that we are comfortable doing so. Finding that balance between cultures can mean either going back home every now and then or giving a friend or family member a phone call.
Personally, I am happy that I have experienced culture shock in my life. As the country heads into a more diverse society, I will surely experience it again — only this time, I will know what to do.