A complicated concept.
Shock: violent encounter, with impact or abrupt concussion, between two bodies; a collision.
Culture: a set of artistic, social, linguistic and behavioral manifestations of people or civilization
Putting together the two words we have a conflict of values, customs and beliefs.
What you consider normal and routine, can become something totally extraterrestrial elsewhere, and vice versa.
Let me give you a personal example.
The first big cultural shock, also the greatest of all so far for me: India.
The differences were apparent, felt in the air, on the palate, on the way of speaking.
They can be the result of climatic, religious, economic or social aspects.
I was amazed, scared and admired.
The mixture of feelings was even greater than that of the masala (combination of spices, like herbs and peppers, for the preparation of certain dishes).
I saw the different, but it took me a long time to realize that I was a stranger being watched as well.
When people followed me with their eyes, they were as curious as I was.
My journey of discovery also involved personal self-knowledge. It encompassed my exposure to the others.
Everything I grew up seeing, hearing, reading, or talking about, was unknown there, and I have a whole new world to discover too.
Here lies the grace of traveling and getting out of my bubble of conformism and self-indulgence.
I began to understand the differences and not to compare them.
There is no better or worse. There are only parallel versions of the same goal. If you judge your way superior, you are already wrong.
I took slaps on my face and I gave some too.
It was not easy as it sounds.
I got mad, screamed, got lost, found myself, cursed, threw everything up and then it hit me.
Now I feel like an electric fish, always in search of a new shock, an extra dose of peculiarities.
Today I look back and see how infantile, ignorant, how wrong I was, but also how I improved.
The secret and the advice I give is to be open to new things. It is to be willing to embrace differences without criticizing or condemning them.
After all, it is much easier to change yourself than to change an entire culture.
When you understand this concept, you will be ready for a high voltage of cultural shocks, and I’ll tell you beforehand, it’s addictive!