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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Postcards (08/29/05)

TITLE: Orientation for new cross-c ultural workers
By Suzanne R


Welcome to China!

As you make a home for yourself in this, your new country, there is something you should know.

You will experience culture shock.

With various degrees of duration and intensity, you can expect to experience these stages.

1. Everything seems new and exciting.
2. You miss ‘home’, feel frustrated, and uncomfortable.
3. You don’t like the local ways of doing things. You want to withdraw.
4. Things seem ‘normal’ after all.
5. You interact well in your host culture.

It is okay to feel this way. Forewarned is forearmed.

What aspects of ‘culture shock’ can you identify in the following postcards?


Climbed the Great Wall yesterday! (See the picture – I walked on this bit!) Legs went wobbly. Not because it was steep, but because of all it represents.

Am writing now from my own sixth floor apartment. Legs wobbly from lugging bags up 86 steps!

Apartment smells like China. Oily garlic smell from stir-frying. Maybe with a dash of pollution.

Looking out the window, can see building after building. Home after home. People who need Jesus.

Can hear traffic, people selling stuff, kids yelling and twittering birds. The birds are in cages, balanced on the security bars around the neighbour's window.

Have to keep pinching myself to check it isn’t a dream. Hope you can read my tiny writing.


I miss you so much. Thanks for the magazines.

Was really hard to get the package. Got a collection slip in the mail and took it to the post office. The girl showed me the package but wouldn’t give it to me.

Finally, somebody showed me their ID card. Aha. That’s what she wanted. Hurried home through the smog, got my official ID, went back.

Finally got the precious bundle all taped up with China Post tape. Did you send five magazines?

Tried to buy a postcard. How hard can that be? Stupid system. Stupid language.

Actually, it’s me who is stupid. Little children can communicate okay.

Sorry the picture on this postcard is so blah. It’s all the post office sold.


See this picture of a fat Buddha? That’s me.

Chinese food is supposed to be nutritious. But they use too much oil. Must admit, though, that pigging out on chocolate and bread is my problem.

Talking of pigs, we ate pig ears the other day. Gross.

Tried to buy ‘fat clothes’ last week. There are fat Chinese ladies. But they aren’t curvy. Everything is the wrong shape. Eventually bought fabric instead.

The tailor works in a laneway near a school. Because of an electricity outage (again), he’d moved his desk into the sunlight.

The tailor couldn’t believe my measurements – checked three times. By the end of it, school was almost out. Every mother waiting at the school gates marveled over my bust-waist-hip ratio.

Waddled home, locked the door, pigged out on coffee and toast. Thanks for the vegemite.


It’s been ages since I last wrote. Sorry.

The postcard is from Pingyao. My friend, Liu Juan, took me there today. On the jam-packed bus, lifted foot to scratch other leg. Never found a spot to put foot down again!

Pingyao is famous for its city wall. UNESCO listed it as a world heritage site. But what I love is the famous Pingyao beef.

Will send you a photo of us on the city wall.

The best thing is that we had a really good talk about life. Pray for Liu Juan. Until today, she’d only heard of Jesus as a swear word in English movies. She’s coming to church with me tomorrow.


This week is our local ‘Noodle Festival’! Hence this postcard of scrumptious noodles. Cat ear noodles are my favourite.

Guess what? Liu Juan is getting baptized on Sunday! Her family and friends are coming to watch too.

Sorry this is so short. Want to mail it on my way to the tailor’s. Am getting new clothes made for my trip!

Looking forward to shopping with you! Must bring back some material. Local fabric is usually polyester. My western sweaty body prefers cotton.

See you soon!


This is my story. Your postcards will be different, of course.

However it turns out for you, remember this.

1. God brought you here. He’ll equip you. Focus on Him.

2. You WILL survive culture shock. Hang in there!

May you enjoy many fruitful years in China.

The opinions expressed by authors may not necessarily reflect the opinion of FaithWriters.com.
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This article has been read 1357 times
Member Comments
Member Date
dub W09/05/05
I like the way you presented this,great format. Each card had its own special message and brought me into the overall story. Thank you.
janet rubin09/06/05
Very creative! Made me reall think what it would be like to live in China.
B Brenton09/06/05
Suppose everyone's experience of China is different. Wasting away living on rice - urgh! Anyway, nicely done. I really do like your work and learn a lot from it.
Anna Meadows09/07/05
You did a nice job of showing and not telling. I could smell the oily-garlic apartment... and hear all the sounds of the street below!
Pat Guy 09/08/05
Buddha? Give yourself a break! Loved every post card! Hope to hear more.
Jan Ackerson 09/10/05
I really liked this: the writer of the postcards has a wonderful, witty voice. I think it'd be even better without the last paragraph. Your postcards tell the story beautifully.
Karen Ward09/12/05
Well done Suz, I really liked this!
God Bless, Karen
Val Clark09/12/05
Congratulations Suz! A succinct and creative way to orient your newcomers to the Orient – and you didn’t think this would place! The postcards have a delightful natural style and are informative without ‘info dumping.’ Love not being able to find a place for your foot. How crowded is that!
B Brenton09/12/05
Just leaving a Congrats! 3rd Place. So proud of you. Keep the good work coming!
Crista Darr09/12/05
Wonderful! Thanks for the chuckles. Is this a true story?
Julianne Jones09/14/05
Well done, Suz! Creative and enjoyable. A well-deserved win.
Kathy Cartee09/21/05
Wonderforful my friend. great writing. Sorry I have not been on line just came home from 8 days in hospital. I hope you received my email.

Kathy C