Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Life in a Foreign Environment.

It is always a strange feeling and even a little daunting when you have a change of environment, particularly if you are going overseas to a different culture and practices. This experience even has its own name and is called, “Culture Shock”, and many books have been written about it, and we had to read quite a few, before we headed to South Africa way back at the end of the last Century (1990 actually.) Probably because we were primed and prepared before hand, we didn't experience too much Culture Shock upon arrival there. Also, we had pretty low expectations of what we would find life like there and thus was not too surprised at what we found. And I think that that attitude will help you too if you ever find yourself in a strange environment, even if you never go overseas.

If you go to a new place or environment, expecting everything to be really different, even difficult, you won’t be too surprised or shocked if it turns out that way, and if it doesn’t, then you will be pleasantly surprised when it is not. Either way, with a little foreknowledge and warning, you will not be completely overwhelmed by what you find in your new environment.

Even with all this, there will be difficult times, just not that many if you are prepared and expecting them. (Of course there will be lots and lots more happy times too that you will look back longingly on later and know that you would not have wanted to miss them even if you had had to go through much more worse things than you did.) The main thing is that when you are going through tough times, is to remember why you are there and what you are meant to be doing there. This will also help you to stick at your task until completion.

Back to Culture shock: We, (and many other Missionaries we found out later), suffered more culture shock when returning to Australia, 4 years later expecting it to be the same as when we left and finding it had moved on, but we hadn't. Our first break back home was difficult to say the least, and we were quite glad to get back "Home" to South Africa after it, but by the second and third break, back in Australia, we knew what to expect to a degree and it wasn't nearly so bad. So whether you are going overseas, interstate, inner country, or just to a new area or Job, to lessen the chance of Culture shock, learn as much as you can about your new environment before hand, and especially about the negative things, so that you can plan to accommodate or adjust to them, and make the shock a whole lot less shocking. Over to you: Walter

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