Here is a story that defines culture shock:
Two students from Hong Kong came to the United States for a visit during the winter. Their American hostess prepared a room for them to sleep in. During the day, they visited many places around the town and came home tired and ready to sleep. Their hostess showed them their room and said goodnight.
In their homes in Hong Kong, blankets were usually folded and placed at the foot of the bed. The two students didn’t see any blankets on their bed. They thought that Americans were very strange. No blankets on the bed in the cold winter! They didn’t want to say anything to their hostess. They didn’t want her to feel badly about not giving them any blankets. So the two of them were uncomfortable all night sleeping on top of the bedspread (which they thought was the sheet) without any blankets.
Please describe a time when you experienced culture shock. What are some of the things that you felt? What kinds of things are you uncomfortable with in a different culture? Give examples.
What aspects of different cultures were a shock at first, but then you began to understand and like them? Give examples.
Even within our own culture, we can experience a kind of culture shock. Some of the following may be a cross-cultural experience for you!
Raising children or teenagers
Talking to people a lot older or younger than yourself
Moving from the city to the country or the country to the city
Give examples of how you are learning to make these kinds of changes and what kinds of things surprised you at first.
Paul was a Christian who traveled to many different places to talk about Jesus. When he visited Athens in Greece, people found his ideas very different and perhaps shocking. Some said “What does this idle babbler wish to say?”. Others said, ‘“He seems to be telling of strange deities (gods)” - because he was talking about Jesus and resurrection from the dead.’ (Acts 17:18)
Have you ever had people react to you as people in Athens did to Paul? How did you handle it?