3 Replies from Mentors
MarieSenior Year StudentLoyola Marymount UniversityIt was not so much culture shock as noticing differences between Germany and the U.S. I would often ask my host parents questions and they would explain to me how things were done in Germany. For example, ordering tap water in restaurants proved to be confusing – as an American accustomed to having tap water with my meals in the U.S., when I asked for tap water, my waiter had a puzzled look on his face and asked me if I wanted mineral or sparkling. Later I asked my host mom about it and she informed me that Germans (and Europeans in general) get bottled mineral or sparkling water if they want water and do not get tap water. The recycling system in Germany is quite different than it is in Los Angeles. The Germans have compost bins in their homes and separate all pieces of rubbish. There are different colored bins or many-sided bins for each recyclable item (compostable food waste, glass bottles, green waste, packaging, paper, and plastic) and then one for rubbish. Growing up in the Los Angeles area, I also noticed the efficient, expansive public transportation system and how it easy it was to travel without a car in Bonn and Europe.
AmieSenior Year StudentUniversity of California, Los AngelesThe generalized culture shocks of Italy are stylish men, amazing baked foods at every stand and bar, and iconic art history at every corner. There is the occasional man in a suit and skinny tie on a Vespa, the stiletto nightmares on the cobblestone streets, the difficulty of not eating at every display window, but there are also stares one is susceptible to when in another country. I found that as an Asian-American in Italy, people were very friendly and the only time I became aware of the fact that I was in another country was when my lack of language skills directed attention at my “foreignness.” I think that the confidence that language proficiency brings will help reduce culture shock on many levels.
AmeliaSenior Year StudentUniversity of California, Los AngelesWhen I arrived in Turkey, I was culture shocked that a country whose population was 99% Muslim was very progressive. In the capital, Ankara, where I stayed at, there was an entire district for bars and clubs downtown. It was only shocking because I had a stereotype of Muslims as being conservative and religious. Although I believe that culture shock is not entirely avoidable, I do believe you can prepare for it by having an open mind and researching some aspects about the culture by reading articles, watching movies, youtube clips, or listening to the music.