Thursday, September 20, 2012

Facing Culture Shock

Some people are scared to face the negative aspects of culture shock or are simply scared to admit they are experiencing them. Others don't realize they're going through culture shock at all. Those who know what they are experiencing yet try to put on a fake face and pretend it isn't happening or cover up the reality are doing an injustice to themselves.

I'm not afraid or ashamed to admit when things go wrong or are less than ideal. Through sharing my struggles I'm able to find truth and humble myself before my circumstances. I believe in facing reality head on and dealing with what life sends me the best way I can. It's often not pretty, there's a lot of emotions involved and I sometimes let my thoughts get the best of me.

Culture shock happens like this (my brief summary):

  1. Yes! I'm going to India. It's going to be magical and I'm going to learn about all the culture and eat the food and and and and......(you get the idea I hope).
  2. Let me research India. OMG I love that sari! Did you see that bhangra video? I want to learn bhangra! That would be so much fun.
  3. You just love the new country. Everything is great. Everything is bright and wonderful and exciting. 
  4. Confusion. Why did I come here again? What did he say? Am I doing this right?
  5. Please God let me go home. Just for a minute. I desperately need _____ (favorite food, etc.) ___. 
  6. Okay fine, maybe I can deal with this until (fill in the month of your next vacation).
  7. Maybe I can't do this. I just want to go home. I need my mommy. 
  8. How old am I again? Did she really just say that to me? I'm not a child. I can do what I want.
  9. Fine. I'll do it. Not because I want to but because I have nothing better to do. I'm so bored and sad. Siting here is just not working for me anymore.
  10. Excuse me? Who the hell do you think you are? You can't talk to me like that. Where are your manners? 
  11. Yay! Time to go home/take a vacation. I need this so bad. 
I'm told that somewhere after that you fall into a routine and daily life isn't so bad most of the time. Still, even after 5 years you find moments that you just can't believe how different things/people can be but that you know how to deal with them better. 

The best thing you can do when you're facing culture shock is to be honest and open about what you're experiencing. Be honest about your surrounding circumstances. You aren't doing yourself any good by trying to lie or fake it. There are lots of girls in this community (both the expat and pardesi communities) who would be more than happy to help you. They have been there and been through it. 

There are both private and public ways to get support. One public way would be a blog - like this one. My sole purpose in writing this blog was to give a realistic account of what I would go through moving to another country. There are also private ways to get support. Email a blog owner (there are about 50 of us roughly), join a private Facebook group (see Gori Resources on my home page) or find local women in a similar situation to talk to. Believe me, Indians are everywhere lol. There's bound to be a pardesi somewhere near you. Even in my super tiny town I've found one! Lol. Can't wait to meet her in person. 

Don't try to go through your cross culture move alone. You do need a friend you can call, text, email, etc. It may be the only thing that helps you survive on days when you think you can't make it. If you don't currently have a friend or a support group, check the links posted on this blog, check out The Gori Guide or contact me. I will gladly help you find other women in your area if there are any there. (Sometimes it's harder to find local women if you're living in India but I will get some kind of support for you.) 

Life is not fully of glitter and rainbows all the time. Unicorns aren't real and even if you're treated like a princess it doesn't mean you won't be locked in the tower like Rapunzel. Try to avoid fantasy land, it will not benefit you in any way. 

For a very realistic view of daily life in India, check out Cyn's Adventures in India. She has nearly a decade of experience and knows more about India than any other blogger I've found. She's successfully moved, raising a child and she's survived the MIL/Aunty drama more times than we can count. You should check out her blog if you haven't already.


  1. Thank you for linking back to my blog, and yes I could not agree more with everything you said.
    ladies, don't do it alone, you AREN'T, there are more ladies than you think in the same boat.
    After such a long time in India, one thing I can say, is don't spit on your own culture, the Indian one is far from being all rosy and glossy and beautiful, it's exotic and different I'll give you that, but remember that your own culture isn't bland, boring and bad, there are many people across the world that think you are lucky living where you live because there is so much richness in traditions too.
    I once compared being exposed to two culture as being a child given a box or red lego and a box of green, both are great in themselves, but when you mix and match you have even more possibilities in front of you.

  2. You're welcome Cyn. I agree, mixing and matching the culture gives you the chance to be involved in both and happy with who you become in the process.

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  23. Wow, I can not imagine all the stress about moving to another country, but then again I don't think I could personally do it. He would have to come to me ;)

  24. I would love to travel and I can without a doubt bet the difference between the cultures we are used to must be quite a shock; I would love to spend a couple of months in Japan!

  25. I had a hard enough time living in different parts of the US, I can't imagine another country. Thank you for sharing your story.

  26. I found it difficult moving around the US as well. I've lived in 6 different states and it's not easy. Maybe that helped a little. Still, India was a hard transition.

  27. It's scary to travel and go where you've never been before but it's worth it to have the experience. I'm taking son to CA this summer and we are both excited and scared but we plan to have fun.

  28. I found a huge culture shock moving from Florida to Michigan. I can't imagine how much bigger it would be going outside of the US!

  29. While it does help to be open and talk about it so you can get help, I find I actually do better to put on the happy face and think positive. I have know so many that get sucked into a negative world by talking about how hard things are all the time, if you focus on the positives then it ends up not being as bad as you think.

  30. I remember feeling culture shock when I got into college. It definitely took some time to get used to things. I think it would be harsher if I actually moved to a whole new city!