I officially start my time in the field in twenty four days, which is extremely overwhelming. There is so much to prepare for and then there are unexpected bumps in the road that can be discouraging, such as a mix up with faculty mentors/courses, what have you, but it’s still something very positive to look forward to. The other day we had a class discussion about culture shock, apparently something that we all will probably experience out in the field. I feel prepared mentally and physically for the culture because my father is from a small village in Guanajuato, so I feel like I’ve met the people, eaten their food, seen their customs, but at the same time, I know it won’t be the same. The people I will get to know will not be family for one thing, and for another, the experience I’ve had with the culture is while I’m physically in the U.S. This time around, I will be placed in their culture, with no U.S. cushion to soften the blow. Because of this, I feel like I should be prepared to feel more culture shock than I want to anticipate.
I fully expect to go through a wonderful “honeymoon” phase. I love the thought of trying new things and in the past, my motto has been “every day an adventure.” The honeymoon phase will be a time for me to see everything in a new and exciting light, allowing me to feel like I’m on that adventure, learning so much about a new culture and people.
The next phase is the irritation/hostility phase. This phase worries me the most because I do not want to take out my frustration on anyone else, and I definitely do not want my sudden discomfort with the culture affect the way I view my project and the population I am working with. I love the food and the customs Mexico, having been raised with some form of them my whole life, but I do think I may have a problem adjusting to doing certain things differently than they are done in the states, especially when it comes to showers/bathroom and doing laundry. I am hoping that I can keep an open mind throughout and that when I must deal with irritation, that I won’t take it out on those who are taking care of me and being really helpful, including my field study group. I hope there is a way for me to exercise because that always helps me ease frustration.
Eventually, I’ll begin to gradually adjust to the culture, which is the next phase of dealing with culture shock. It may happen so gradually that I may not even notice, but I’m hoping to reach this stage sooner rather than later. I want to see things with a respect and understanding that is unique to my personal relationship with the culture.
The final stage of dealing with culture shock is biculturalism. I have always felt the I have two cultures in me, the one I was raised in and the one of my parents. After spending time in Mexico, I’m sure I might see the difference between knowing the culture and really living in it. I hope that when I come home, I can speak better Spanish, I can understand the people better, and most importantly, I can have a knowledge of how TV media impacts the youth of the town. I hope to get real insightful feedback. I am really looking forward to this experience.