Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Shock About the Culture Shock

New immigrants to the US face what's known to many as the culture shock. This has been the case for so long. These days the shock is not too strong as it used to be, especially in our very small world where most immigrants know what America is like before even stepping in the US Embassy to obtain a visa.

The only true culture shock I faced when I first traveled to the US was how kind and humble Americans were especially when I expected hem to be very arrogant.... I wonder what gave me that first impression?? .... and polite. Very polite, much more than us Jordanians. That was shocking to me. Otherwise, I wasn't too shocked from anything else I saw or experienced.
It's a different story as I travel inside the US.

In California, and I saw a vehicle "Running on Vegetable Oil" .... vegetable oil! And then a gas station for "compressed natural gas" whatever that is. I was in South Dakota and went to their Walmart and was really shocked to see no Latinos or African Americans there . I was shocked when I traveled to Chicago and had people completely ignore me when I'd ask them about directions, as if I was transparent. I had to block someone's way to the train so she'd stop to tell me where the hell Wabash street was (and boy was she frightened to death when I did that)...and the toll roads, where you have to pay little cash to continue driving on what's supposed to be the good highway. How about Kentucky, where I couldn't really understand the English half the people were speaking while none of them could understand the English I was speaking.

Also the fact that Americans are not one thing was a bit shocking. In some places in the country all people dress alike, think alike, have the same habits day and night. Their houses, schools, children, farms, cars and the names written in their voting booths are all the same. However in other places you'll find a trans-sexual well-moustached person with gigantic breasts covered with tattoos from head to toe, a Rabi, an old prostitute and a middle-age conservative mother sitting next to each other in the train. They may even work in the same place.

The shock about the culture shock is that once you think you've been through the classical culture shock, you're faced with many other ones as travel inside this big country and learn more about it, which makes you often think of it as several smaller countries with so many smaller nations who miraculously not only managed to live together but have taken pride in this diversity and used it effectively to bring their country together instead of ripping it apart.

32 comments:

Qwaider said...

You know Hareega, I had a greater cultural shock visiting Jordan after I've been here for a while than I had coming to the US.

I totally agree with everything you said .. Especially the Chicago part (no offence Chicago natives)

kinzi said...

Hareega, that was a sweet look at some of the best of what America is. I liked the last part, how so many can come and live and make it a better place to live, rather than tear it apart.

Ali said...

Hi, I posted a campaign about the Hate DVD distributed in the US (http://alidahmash.blogspot.com/2008/09/obsession-with-hate.html) appreciate if you can do the same

Hareega said...

Qwaider.... what you have is called a reverse culture shock, that's actually a valid term.

kinzi.... thank you for checking. I believe that diversity and tolerance is a major source of America's power in the world. Hope this will never change.

Ali... I'll check it in a little bit

The Observer said...

People are good everywhere, no? :)

Mohanned said...

sho malkoo 3la chicago?

hamede said...

[I traveled to Chicago and had people completely ignore me when I'd ask them about directions]
I agree,they gave me the finger.

caroline said...

people r polite here,it is true but in the Northeast in general,compared to the South,people r more stressed out and wanting to rush thru their day..i guess the southern laid back style exists everywhere.We should never forget that the US is a continent in itself and generalizations r almost impossible.
On a different note..I would like to believe that the 'reverse shock' one gets when coming back home is a good shock that reminds us how warm and kind Jordan is...and that it always takes us back though we often try to abandon it...at least that is what I hope every Jordanian feels coming back on the plane...but i know it is wishful thinking and most people r 'hating' jordan all the way back home....

Isra' el Qasem said...

"I was shocked when I traveled to Chicago and had people completely ignore me when I'd ask them about directions"

OMG! I'll never go to Chicago :(

nice one ;)
Thanx

Hareega said...

observer... sometimes you shock me with your statements

mohannad... 3ala rasi el kubbz

hamede... sorry to hear about your finger

caroline... you'll probably keep getting in and out of these shocks for the rest of your life

isar... chicago is definitely worth visiting, not sure about living there

Mohanned said...

El kubzz ta3 tan6at..ya3ni zay ma tgool el fe9ali ta3 chicago. Ana sox zay obama..

Hareega said...

mohannad, el fesali el za3eem, i hope the kubbz will win this is season after a one-century drought. When they do let me know because I promised myselfnever to watch the so-called baseball again

KJ said...

hahahaha

I could relate when I went on a trip from NYC to south carolina!

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