Jumping head first into a cold swimming pool is never at the top of a list of things I want to do, yet coming from Arizona and Texas, a summer without swimming is not a summer at all. The shock of cold water is in many ways compared to the culture shock of jumping into on an airplane to travel to foreign lands. Many people have had this same shocking feeling that seems to have different levels of effect on each person.
While here in Senegal, I have experienced culture shock. One would think that after 3 months of showering with a bucket, the faint squeal that escapes my mouth would soon become a natural part of life; it hasn’t. The culture shock of Senegal comes in different forms and although I have learned to cope and love some traits of the culture, other parts of the culture just never seem to get to the “comfy” level.
So here’s the chart! After reading it, I would agree that it’s fairly accurate. Fortunately for me, it is not my first time traveling abroad, and I feel that the more often a person travels, the smoother and straighter the line becomes. The best part about this chart is that it gives a general emotional roller coaster to an experience that has several more ups and downs. I felt with each characteristic of the new culture, I was excited, then annoyed, then accepting. For example, the food was so exciting to begin with. I loved eating rice and fish and everything Senegalese. After a few weeks of eating the same things day in and day out, the food lost its luster. However, I am sure when I return home, I will get cravings for a good poulet yassa or ceebu jen for as long as I live. The timing of the food culture shock was different from the timing of the culture shock with my family.
Just like jumping into the cold water prevents people from going swimming out of fear, traveling scares people from going to foreign soil. Especially with misconceptions of the current EBOLA outbreak, travel to the country of Senegal is ceasing. The fact is that EBOLA doesn’t exist here. One case was cured and the country has an extensive health and sanitary department that promotes healthy living and combatting the EBOLA virus. Don’t be the person who spends each summer of life outside the pool due to your fear of the shock. Travel. Be uncomfortable. Expand your horizons.
Just like you know it’s time to get out of the pool as your fingers start to wrinkle and become prune like, I feel that my time in Senegal is soon coming to an end. It’s bittersweet to leave, but I know that I will get to jump back into the shivering cold pool of culture shock and travel soon. Bottom line: I love jumping feet first into adventure and every time I do, the culture shock shocks a little less.