Category Archives: Elizabeth Morales

Culture Shock

I believe that culture shock can often be mentally draining. For me, it happened when I went to go visit Tijuana, Mexico for the first time. I had the impression that although I was Mexican, everything would be the same and I would not be viewed as an outsider or tourist. I agree with Bennett’s when she says that culture shock occurs when you feel threatened or even out of place.

Upon checking into the hotel, the receptionist at the front desk automatically believed we were American. Of course, I viewed myself as a Mexican-American, but I believed it would have been the same as being a Mexican in Mexico. However, it was different. People viewed us as being rich, snobby people, but that was not the case. We were not even in Mexico to visit tourist attractions or anything in that matter. My dad, even being from Mexico, was constantly mistaken for an American. That’s when I came to the conclusion that although you may be from a certain place, you can often be regarded based on one’s culture. In Mexico, their culture is different from ours; so people can often pick out people who do not blend in with the rest of the people.

Every day that we spent in Tijuana, we often tried to “blend in” with the crowd and not appear as tourists. It shocked me how we had to pretend to fit in, even though I assumed because we were Mexican it would be the same. It was nerve-wrecking having to pretend to fit in because I thought I already did. As Bennett mentions with culture shock, one does become nervous and wanting to leave the place that you are not accustomed to. Every single day that I was there, I was in panic, in fear, that people would recognize that I was not who I was. I wanted to leave two days into our trip, but we were not able to. As Bennett mentions in her article, communication was a key factor in the culture shock. Even though I was fluent in Spanish, I often felt as if I could not communicate with the people there. I often felt I was not proficient or I did not know any Spanish although it was my native tongue. It was hard for me because I always assumed I spoke it well, but there, I felt out of place.

Eventually, I came to the conclusion that there was no alternative. I had to suck up to the idea of being a “Foreigner.” I ended up taking advantage of my status and doing silly things as a tourist, and did not have a shame in it. That was when I started to become more relaxed and at ease with myself. Bennett’s also argues after the initial moments of culture shock, you then sense familiarity and become used to your surroundings even though they may be new.

As Bennett’s provides examples of submerging oneself to the culture as a way to overcome culture shock, I had done that. My parents and I traveled like a typical Mexican, we would jam-pack ourselves into taxis, take the autobus, go to the pulga, and enjoy other things that natural residents do in Mexico. We ended up overcoming the initial culture shock by submerging ourselves into the Mexican culture although we assumed that we already had the culture in the United State.

As a result of reading the Bennett’s article, I realized that I had overcome and experiences culture shock. I know now that although you may think you have not, you most likely have. It could be with somewhere you think is familiar or similar to you, but it happens all the time, unknowing to you.

The Great Melting Pot

Being raised in a Hispanic household has often prompted me to think about my culture. It’s hard to think that despite living in a household in which many values and beliefs are taught or even passed onto you subliminally, I often have an identity crisis. I like to believe that I am just from a Hispanic/Mexican background, but often times I see myself past that. Many people like to label me as just “a Mexican” girl, but that is not just the only thing I am.

What many people do not know is that my grandparents are German and Italian; however, because of the clashing of identities, it’s hard to know what culture I am. There are strict rules that people like to categorize people into certain identities and cultures and base who they are and what their culture is based on them. Many people believe if you do not religiously follow a cultures ideas, then you are not a part of their culture, which is definitely not true. However, I have to understand I do often to that to other people. I often ask, “If you are ___, then why don’t you ____.” As it is for everyone else, It is easier to put someone into a certain stereotype and base who they are and their culture by an appearance, but it does not necessarily reflect who they are.

As I start to reflect on my own culture, I realize many things I believe and act upon do not fall under the normal shared values and beliefs of my culture. I often feel like that “lone wolf” because I feel like an anomaly. I do not feel like i belong with my culture often times. Coming from a family that has a Hispanic culture and religiously led culture, when I think of values I should share with them, I do not see myself agreeing with it.  However, I see myself a mix between the Hispanic and American culture as I was raised in America, therefore many values and beliefs have been indoctrinated into me.

It is like in Ojeda’s Growing Up American, there is a clear stereotyped view of American culture. Usually, it is often called individualism, where we often like to take control of our own fate and our own decisions. Ojeda states that in her culture, they respect the elders while in America, we do not. I see culture differences in this and it makes me question where I stand as I often refer to the elders in a formal manner, but it just depends. It’s hard because in these types of situations I wonder what I really fall into. America is often called the Great Melting Pot and I believe it.

Despite everything, I still do not know what kind of culture I fall into- if there is any group I belong to. However, I hope that along the process of going to study abroad, I learn who I really am. While I am abroad, I hope to reaffirm my culture and know that is is an inherent, nurtured part of me.