Diversity Abroad – Blog

Dealing with Culture Shock

dscn1638Dealing with Culture Shock
So far on this journey, I have felt so much like a tourist.; taking endless picture of the
trevi fountain with the hundreds of other fascinated visitors in Rome, going into every souvenir
shop in Greece, trying to find the best sangria and paella in Spain. I’m not by any means taking
away the pleasures of the European countries, I’ve had so many great experiences that I’ll
cherish forever; however, there was no experience like Morocco. When we arrived in port, I
immediately noticed a difference in the air of the country. I couldn’t see rows of tall buildings
through my port window or even walking to the front gate outside. Poverty is everywhere but the
European countries are so westernized it wasn’t too much different than what I was used to
seeing. In Morocco I was overwhelmed with the amount of culture shock I felt. I felt like all the
breath was knocked out of me because I had no idea what was going on. There were so many
factors to take in, the unique way the drivers and pedestrians acted, the strong orders of both
yummy moroccan spices and urine, the crumbled state of the buildings, and the very strong
feeling of not belonging and standing out.
In every country we have visited so far there has been a language barrier but in most
cases there have been words that I could pick up on and whoever I was interacting with spoke
decent English; however here the taxi drivers didn’t speak any english so it was really easy to get
lost. The only people who really spoke any english was the people in the Bazar or market and
that provided challenges of its own. Going into the country I knew that women were more so
regarded as submissive and I thought I would be prepared for that, but mentally I am a strong
feminist so I found myself becoming annoyed with the men at the market place. The men were
very aggressive, trying there hardest to pursued us to go into their shops and take a look at their
items. Sometimes they would grab some of the girls in our group and try to pull us in. It was easy
to see that it was expected that women stay to themselves and not show a lot of resistance, or if
they showed resistance to do so in a calm manner. The shop owners would follow us through out
the entire market not leaving when we would tell them no thank you and looking irritated when
they saw we weren’t budging. I was definitely not used to dealing with this at a mass level. While
all this was happening around me I reminded myself to not let these steak differences take away
from my enjoyment of the country. Morocco was beautiful and most of the people there were
welcoming and friendly. I had great conversations with our camel trek guide in Marrakech about
school and work over a cup of tea at in a local village. I saw the delicate details of the Hassan II
mosque and heard the seductive singing of prayer over the speaker during praying hours. In the
market I was able to see the vibrant colors of fruits and meats and women dressed in beautiful
garments and scarfs. I witness children playing outside before and after school, laughing and
enjoying life. While there are all these differences, at the end of the day we are all human and we
all have emotions, things we are going through, people who either we look after or who are
looking after us. It’s human nature. When dealing with culture shock, it is important to remember
that it may be different to you but it’s their norm so embrace the culture and you may end up
falling in love with it.dscn1608