As anybody who has lived in a foreign place for an extended period of time knows, there are many different stages that you go through regarding culture shock. After perusing the Internet, the inefficient way in which I spend too much of my time, I stumbled across an excellent blog that goes into detail about the different types of culture shock that are experienced by foreigners, especially in India. The author of this blog describes the simple interesting things that you would write home about as culture shock–something I have had plenty of over the years of extensive traveling in India. Then, he goes on to describe having a series of culture shocks in a short period of time and an unexplainable breakdown as a culture attack. (Preach!)
I for sure and without a doubt had a culture attack just the other day. They are rather embarrassing and something that most of us would prefer to not talk about, but are part of the unfortunate truth that comes along with living in a foreign country. Looking back I’m not even sure I can tell you what the culture attack was even about or what triggered it. It was simply just a combination of everything that tipped me over the edge.
Living in India my diet consists primarily of Indian food, which is all fine and dandy. However, eating Indian food outside and eating home food in India are a different story. There’s certainly nothing wrong with eating daal all the time, but sometimes enough is enough. It seems silly enough; it was something that I said I wanted for dinner, but once it was fixed and it was dinner time I just broke down. I think it was just a combination of everything–work related stress, the stress of being somewhere where you can’t speak the language, having difficulty communicating, not having many friends where we live in India, the noise, the smells, the spices, lack of comfort and familiar food and tastes, the constant feeling of being either sticky or wet during the monsoon, and the incessant itching as the result of mosquito bites (everywhere including your face!). I broke down and started crying. Poor Abhi had no idea what was wrong. He kept saying it was just a meal and we could go somewhere and get something I wanted to eat tomorrow (at this point it was so late all restaurants were closed). The sad thing was I couldn’t even explain to him what was wrong. It wasn’t making any sense to him and appeared to come out of nowhere.
Rest assured, these things happen. After about fifteen minutes, I was completely fine and had recovered. There are still things that bother me and still things I find completely fascinating about this culture. However, I find that sometimes it’s okay to breakdown, it’s okay to cry, and it’s completely okay to take the time you need to cope with the changes in your surroundings, even if no one else knows where your breakdown is coming from. As you can see, I’ve been there and I know many before me have been there.
I’m curious, who else has experienced a culture attack? What happened? What triggered it? Share your stories in the comments below….