All posts by Somarly Tep

Transitional Shock

Janet Bennett states in her article that “culture shock” can exist in transitional experience. Once experience where I first had trouble adapting an environment was when I started my freshmen year at Pacific. Although, I was born and raised in Stockton, attending Pacific seems as if it were an entirely different world. Many students at Pacific, especially those from Stockton, say the UOP is its own bubble in Stockton. The culture and the social life was quite different from what I was accustomed to in high school. I was used to knowing everyone, being in the same social groups as athletes and student government was normal. Here, I found that Pacific had quite a few cliques. Greek life only associated with Greek life or athletes only associating with fellow athletes, so on and forth. I found myself feeling alone and I feared that I was missing out on the whole college experience. Bennett described loneliness as one of the symptoms of culture shock. Loneliness was definitely what I felt during this time. Granted, I came in with an amazing group of people in my scholarship program. However, I felt as if I wasn’t involved enough or doing things everyone else was doing. The four stages, according to Bennett, that represents the process during a transitional experience. The first being fight, during this stage, the person’s guard is usually up. At this moment, the person has high expectations of the experience or place. This sort of relates to my experience transitioning from high school to college. I had extremely high expectations of college and how I planned to make a change in my life. Unfortunately, that mindset was torn down after the first month of the semester. The next stage is “flight”. Flight occurs when the situation is overwhelming and the person becomes discouraged and withdrawn. Relating back to my experience, I thought about leaving Pacific. I was envious of what my friends had at other college campuses. I felt that I was again missing out. My friends also made me feel as if staying in Stockton for college was an indicator that I would be “stuck” here for the rest of my life. That was until I started to see the positive aspects of attending Pacific. The third phase is “filter”. Filter occurs when the person starts to adjust to their environment and lower their defenses. During this stage of my transitional experience, I started to realize that I had a pretty good thing at Pacific. The small classes, the personal interaction with professors, and how easy it was to register in comparison to other public universities. The last stage was flex. Flex is when defenses are dropped and perspectives are changed in order to adapt to our new surroundings. Finally, once I began my sophomore year. I became more involved and started to appreciate the opportunity I was given.

American “Core Values”

Living in a home with both American and Cambodian values has put me in a position where I can draw experiences from both aspects. In Peeradina’s article, he mentions that for most Americans the home is a private sanctity whereas for foreigners it is more of a place for visitors. Growing up, my home was just that. I lived in a house with ten people and  my uncles also lived a few houses away; we pretty much had a whole neighborhood filled with people we knew. It was a very close knit community almost like the one Peeradina described.

However, as I got older, our families moved out of that neighborhood; we became private and only had guests over for specific occasions. When I visited my family in Cambodia, it was a lot of different. Guests came over constantly and if someone walked by, they would be invited in for dinner. If we had older guests come over, the children would have to properly greet them, for Cambodians this means the hands are in “prayer” form  and the words “Chum Reap Sou ” , the proper way to say hello, are spoken.

Even though our family doesn’t have guests over as often, we interact with our neighbors often, something our family members don’t do. Our families would host joint barbecues and invite each other over during football games or birthday parties. Although Peeradina talked about the American home being more private, for our family, it’s a bit half and half. Growing up with both values isn’t too bad.