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China Travel Tips - My Culture Shock in China

Post Time: Mar 12 2012 By Vanessa Li

I have found that there are four basic stages of culture shock: fascination, friendship, frustration and fulfillment.

The first stage of culture shock, that will be encountered is fascination. Many tourists never pass this stage of culture shock because their duration of time in the host country is too short. The fascination stage of culture shock is just how it sounds, absolutely fascinating. This is when outsiders, look upon our new country of residence as fresh and exciting. Everything, no matter how different or unusual, seems to be tolerated as we make allowances for things we might normally not accept back home in our own country. The Chinese, for example, that rarely queue, disobey every traffic law in the book, spit everywhere and those who start blasting their loudspeakers advertising their 'Guilin Noodles' or opening up the local market at five a.m. every morning are not irritating, but 'peculiar', they represent a distinct characteristic of Chinese society and, one could say was quite endearing.
The second stage of culture shock that one goes through is friendship. This occurs when our feet gradually start to hit the floor. Though we are still fascinated by the host country, our feelings of wonderment and adventure are beginning to wane a little. It is during this stage of culture shock that we begin to feel the need to reconnect with others. For many travelers this means establishing friendships with other foreigners in the area, eating western food, beginning to learn the language and making local Chinese friends. Regardless of the relationships established, the traveler will be connecting with others and setting down more sustainable roots.

During the third stage of culture shock, frustration, reality takes a turn for the worse. At this stage know and understand that there is no personal connection, with thge locals, in particular the awe of being abroad in a new place has worn pretty thin.  At this stage we have been working and or studying for a number months or even a year or two. How long it takes for a person to go from fascination to frustration varies from one to another. In my case it kicked in after 18 months, at that time I could so easily have hopped a plane back to dear old Blighty. All those small things that had been dismissed as being different or peculiar, are now starting to wear me down.

It’s not longer 'very interesting' that a man repairs motor scooters in the street, with all of the mess created, it becomes so outrageous that he could be so awake and loud before the sun has finished rising. People pushing past to the head of the queue, whilst I have patiently waited has gone from being 'funny' to down-rite infuriating. Those little old women on the street that spit better than your pals in the English 'pubs', have lost all sense quanteness, instead have become just disgusting. The frustration phase of culture shock is certainly the most difficult to deal with and for me personally was almost my undoing. I am happy to say that it did not last too long. In my case I came through this horrible stage in a better frame of mind to return more easily to the wonderful life that can be had in China. 

The fourth stage of culture shock is fulfillment. Here everything seems to come together. I now know and understand some of the details as to why Chinese culture is different. I have made a number of local friends and laid down stable roots. Now, I feel to be a more acceptable participant in local daily life. In making new friends I have developed a more deeper understanding and appreciation of the culture. The fulfillment stage is certainly when all of the frustration endured in stage three has come to past and in its place provided a number of entertaining stories to share with friends and family back home.

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Vanessa Li

Vanessa Li

Position:Travel Consultant

I'm delighted to be able to help you in your journeys. As the great Mark Twain said: "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So sail away from the safe harbour. Explore. Dream. Discover!” You can only appreciate home after you've been somewhere else, and the greater the journey, the greater the appreciation! So come to China for one of the greatest journeys you could ever take! 

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