Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Postcards (08/29/05)
TITLE: Orientation for new cross-c ultural workers
By Suzanne R
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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.
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