Thursday, July 12, 2007

About A Week

Sun setting behind the neighborhood skyline.

Q: What’s the difference between a tourist and a racist?

A: About a week.

Five weeks is about my “culture shock limit”. Prior to that I can take just about anything that foreign travel can dish out. At the five-week point, however, I feel myself becoming short with people, intolerant, and very sarcastic; all classic signs and symptoms of culture shock. That’s when I know that it’s time for a break; time to go home.

Culture shock is a very real phenomenon that causes stress in people that are exposed for very long periods of time to different cultural environments. It happens to everyone, regardless of how much they travel. I’ve seen the most enlightened, well-traveled, tolerant people turn vicious and hateful after a month of foreign cultural immersion.

Over time it passes, but it’s a stage that everyone will go through while living or traveling extensively overseas. For me, I recognize the signs and can rationalize what is happening to me based on having lived through it countless times before. Nonetheless, the rage, frustration, and stress are all very real, and without fail occur to me at the five-week point of my travels.

Heading home soon.

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