Free Essay On Culture Shock Essay
In spite of the present trend of fast globalization across the world, people belonging to different cultures and backgrounds, both the Western and Eastern worlds, continue to be divided by many cultural differences. For example, when a Chinese student comes to America for the first time, he or she is bound to experience many cultural differences or shocks on account of the entirely different cultural practices prevailing in both the countries. Culture shock can be defined as a feeling of insecurity, disorientation and anxiety someone feels in the new surroundings. The distinct cultural differences may give a Chinese visitor a difficult time and unfriendly atmosphere till he gets used to the new culture. Since there are also chances of misunderstanding a fellow colleague or a student in the new country, it is always advisable for someone going abroad to have a basic knowledge and understanding about the customs and cultural practices prevailing in the foreign land. The cultural shocks in store may be pleasant or unpleasant for a first-time Chinese visitor to America.
In China, most people do not wish strangers with a pleasing smile. Thus, for someone from China, an American stranger saying “hi” with a smile while walking along the road or shopping in a mall would be quite confusing, with a possible interpretation of intruding into his privacy. While greeting each other, as against an American who does a quick and firm handshake, a Chinese counterpart is likely to shake hands slowly, holding the other person’s hand for a longer period than the American. Some Chinese prefer to bow to greet another person rather than shaking hands. Similarly, for a Chinese visitor going to a coffee shop, an American who goes first, patiently holding the door open for him to pass through would be embarrassing. In American culture, the gesture of holding the door is a sign of politeness whereas a Chinese, who prefers to walk at his own pace, may likely to interpret the culture of someone politely holding the door as indirectly controlling him and asking him to walk fast and enter the door quickly.
There exists a vast difference between the values both the Chinese and American cultures seem to express through the way both cultures communicate. While discussing, the Chinese talk less, and prefer to be quiet and reserved most of the time, which makes them poor communicators. On the other hand, unlike the Chinese counterparts, the outspoken nature of the Americans makes them more eloquent and effective communicators. During business communication s and negotiations, the Chinese boss has the final say, implying that the Chinese value personal leadership whereas each American member in a group freely comes forward with his own personal views. Also, while dealing with counterparts in business discussions, the Chinese tend to be courteous and more personal, which makes them carry memories of favor and humiliation for a long time in their hearts. The Americans on the other hand are more matter-of-fact when it comes to business discussions, and their personal memories are superseded by organizational objectives. During interpersonal communications, the Chinese value relationship the most, contrary to the Americans who value economics and business interests the most.
One can overcome culture shock by always having an open mind to differences, and not interpreting cultural differences as negative and unfriendly. An open mind helps a Chinese in America to get used to the new culture gradually and establishing meaningful relationships with new colleagues or fellow students. Learning the new language would help one improve his communication skills, thus helping him to mingle with the new culture. Getting acquainted with the social behavior or custom and not interpreting the American custom from the Chinese perspective would help a Chinese get used to the new culture easily. For example, when an American asks someone “how are you,” he in fact, acknowledges the other person’s presence or means only a “hello.” If, without understanding the real intention of the American way of greeting, a Chinese visitor asks the same question to an American, chances are the Chinese visitor may interpret as arrogance or uncaring an Americans mere “hello” in response to the question. Respecting each others’ culture and beliefs, reading local newspapers and magazines, and participating in local celebrations and events also help one to solve problems associated with culture shock.