Home away from home: Culture Shock!
AS I write this article, I am thinking of my country, the land of the unexpected where unexpected things happen and the country of thousand tribes with a composition of variety of cultures and ethic groups. By comparison, I can honestly describe our country as "unique" and a real "paradise" in the Pacific. I mean, you don't see its significance and its uniqueness until you are out of the country.
Quite a number of years ago in the seminary in Rabaul, East New Britain province, my theology professor introduced a missiological term in the Cross Cultural Ministry class that struck home. The term is "Culture Shock." For seminary students undertaking world missions and cross cultural ministry, culture shock is a missional term that describes the reaction of an individual from one different culture or worldview when introduced into a new culture and worldview. A disturbance of mental picture of life!
When I first arrived in the Philippines, I felt culture shock and eventually homesick and hardly coped with the climate and the environment. I had flu and headache as my body could not withstand the transition of the environment. By comparison, the weather in Papua New Guinea is cool and fine. Even as I write this article, the weather outside my apartment is really chilly and irritating. Anyway, I could not manage to sit back and let the opportunity pass as my friends invited me to go to the nearest town.
My first day out in the city was a real culture shock. I could not believe my eyes the traffic congestion coupled with air pollution. Even in the busy streets, people could cross the road and stop fast moving vehicles with a gesture sign of stop... and the vehicles responded! I wondered probably this is the only country on earth where there is no traffic rule. I mean the machines were really careless on the crossing path as though there were no traffic rules! The tri-cycles, the jeepnies, the buses, the motorbikes, the vans and trucks were intimidating and impolite! However, I managed to maneuver through the busy traffic and got hold of the boys.
We traveled into the busy supermarket and I collected few items necessary for the weekend and returned back to the campus on a tri-cycle. The tri-cycle was traveling at a neck-breaking speed. I could not believe its convenience until I rode on it. It was an awesome experience. While we were riding on the way, I asked how much should I pay for a kilometer? He replied that I would pay 45 peso that is approximately K3. It's expensive for a short distance. So next time you travel from Gerehu to Boroko on a bus, pay 80 toea and enjoy the convenience. In fact, every experience seems to be a shock to me, a culture shock. I guess after some time, I would adapt very well and relate very well.
The writer is a Papua New Guinean student studying Masters in Religion at the Adventist International Institute of Advanced Studies (AIIAS), Silang, Cavite, Philippines. For comments I can be contacted on email: firstname.lastname@example.org or cell phone (05) (63) 09391773655.