June 21, 2010

The Culture Shock’s Undiscussed Stage

There are many books dealing with the culture shock, and generally they all agree that you go through these stages- euphoria, followed by disappointment and resentment, followed by adjustment and then, eventual relative peace and enjoyment,

I have discovered that after the resentment and before adjustment you go through the stage of sarcastic derision. The new country ends up looking ridiculous and its people seem so stupid that you start making fun of them and deriding them. It is not exactly resentment because derision can be so funny that you may actually enjoy it.

This is when you start making jokes about the natives that are funny to you but not funny to them. You start laughing at the way they walk and talk and think. You sometimes laugh so hard at the way they misunderstand you or make comments about you and “your people” that you come home with a big smile on your face.

The derision stage can last from several weeks to even several years and then you slide out of it into the adjustment stage. However, do keep in mind that when you deride the locals in their country, or even after you leave it and find the locals in your country, you are inviting trouble. People can get offended and attack you verbally or even physically. I have had it happen to me and since then, I keep my jokes to the circle of expats in bars and clubs and even then I watch the barman and stop talking when he or the waitresses are around. The locals’ ways are not funny to them and your mocking of their country may end up costing you dearly.

If you are one day laughing sarcastically, or not so sarcastically in the taxi at everything around you in the new land, rejoice, for you are now out of the resentment period. However, do not tell anyone among the natives why you are laughing. Hold your laughter until you get back home and chat on the Net with the people back in your country, or call your mom and tell her just how ludicrous these people can be. If you can, do it in some language that your hosts cannot understand.

The derision stage is real and you will go through it. Hold on to your seat and enjoy it. It is part of the culture shock and you will soon be over it.


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