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.

One thought on “Culture Shock

  1. I can totally relate to this feeling! Even though many people in Europe are white and look just like my family, from the first time we got there, the citizen automatically knew that we were American and they began to see us differently. They didn’t even give us another chance. I think its good that instead of being sad, you took advantage of the opportunity and you embraced the fact that you are an American tourist.

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