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Excerpt from Chapter 6 – The Joy of Culture Shock

This is an excerpt from the bestselling book, Globejotting: How to Write Extraordinary Travel Journals (and still have time to enjoy your trip!) by Dave Fox.You can order autographed copies on this website or download it for Kindle.

 


 

When we go to unfamiliar places, we find ourselves surrounded by people different from us. They might speak a different language or dialect, use different body language, dress differently, or have a different sense of personal space or appropriate speaking volume. They might have political or religious views we disagree with or have never encountered. They might have different interests, different ways to entertain themselves, different senses of what’s funny and what isn’t. They might eat differently, drink differently, or be more open or more guarded than we are about discussing personal issues such as health or money or sex. When we encounter these situations, we’ve entered a foreign environment. Not necessarily a foreign country, but an environment that’s foreign to us, in which we are outsiders.

The farther from home we stray geographically, the farther we tend to get from our own set of subcultures. Away from the people we interact with on a regular basis, we also step away from their expectations of us — and, more importantly, we step away from our expectations of their expectations. Getting away from our familiar lives frees us to try on different shades of our personalities that we might not try on at home, and see how we like them.

This can lead to big personal discoveries. Often, however, these potential discoveries tiptoe quietly around the fringes of our conscious minds. As we journal about the foreign environment around us, and how that environment is affecting our thoughts and behaviors, we become more aware of these emerging pieces of who we are. Writing them down helps solidify them, so we don’t just revert back to our old selves when we return home.

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Published on Thursday, May 15, 2008

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