Culture Shock

By: Gabe Thornton

Shock, as we learned on our backpacking trip through the Wind River Range, is when the body begins to shut down as a result of hypothermia, major burns, loss of blood etc. It makes sense then that shock is the word used to describe initial immersion into a foreign culture. You want to hide in your room and take a nap for the rest of the day. But avoiding this urge and deciding to take on the adverse conditions I faced was for the better, and I knew it.

My host mother is a 75 year old grandmother named Anabelly Guzman. She described herself as patient, which is a blessing in my case considering the depth of our initial conversations went no farther than a multitude of yes, no, and bien. She recognized my underdeveloped abilities in Spanish and took it as motivation to teach me whenever possible. Just in one week before starting any classes I have already doubled my communication abilities. Today was my first actual Spanish class, and with that in mind I cannot wait for the future and the possibilities it holds in regards to communication with my host family. I no longer feel the desire to hide in my room to avoid the awkward and difficult dialogues but instead feel empowered to test the new knowledge I gather each day. Initially I was stressed and overwhelmed with the thought of learning a new language but no longer do I despair at this thought. Like after the initial shock of jumping into cold water, my body is already acclimating. The water is beginning to feel not so bad after all.

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