Not everyone speaks English

He was about our age. A group of my friends were out wandering the streets and needed to know what time it was. I shouted across the street to him, and in turn received a look of utter confusion- possibly the most confusing look I have ever received to this date.

I quickly remembered I was in Quebec and not everything revolved around the English language, so I promptly asked him the time in French.

This is the closest thing I have experienced to culture shock, for I have never been outside of the US for an extended period of time. I would attribute this experience to a more personalized version of cultural confusion so to speak. I wasn’t necessarily shocked, and I was only there for a weekend, so I didn’t develop even the slightest bout of homesickness, but I did definitely carry the assumption that everyone was like me. I wouldn’t say that I went through the fight, flight, filter, or flex stages.

While in Quebec for the weekend, I didn’t really experience the full realm of cultural shock, but saw it more as a challenge to utilize my language skills. Had I been in the environment for a longer period of time there is no doubt I would have instantly become overwhelmed. However, just as Bennett suggested, if “perceived as a challenge, can stimulate creativity and provisional communication.”

While abroad, I hope to have the ability to bridge the cultural gap as Bennett mentioned, and to not keep the idea that “people are about the same everywhere” the way I did while in Quebec.

I’ve recently been applying to a program in France, instead of my program in Morocco. Had I still been planning on attending school in Morocco, I feel that my cultural shock would be to a much greater degree than it will be in France. In Morocco, I would stick out more and in turn receive different treatment automatically. Whether that would be better or worse treatment I don’t really know and I am sure is very dependent on the situation; however, I would say that the fear of culture shock and differences in cultural norms, especially when dealing with how women are seen and treated in Morocco did play a great part in my decision to explore other options.

As for France, I think the language barrier will provide the biggest challenge for me, along with some of the behavioral and conversational standards that I might not know about or think of at first. Like most things, over time I believe the situation will improve.

I feel because of my stressed out nature, flight will be a lot stronger reaction than say fight. Leaving my family and friends far behind is something that is very hard for me to think about, and at this point I would say homesickness is my biggest fear.

About Alex Gerberick

I am a junior Marketing major with a French minor at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California. I am the Vice President of Panhellenic Relations for my sorority Delta Gamma, and in my spare time I like to go hiking, travel, and hang out with my friends.

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