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Being in a country where people don’t speak the same language as you is one of the hardest problems a person can face. Another is leaving your family for the first time when you are 18 years old can be hard as well. Each person who moves outside their home country most likely will experience some form of culture shock, but mine came before I even landed in the United States. I got mine when I was on the plane. I told myself it was only the beginning and it was going to be a lot worse once I arrived. After arriving, I realized culture shock wouldn’t be the only problem I would run into, but also several others. After reading the selections in class I feel I can most relate with the story “Scholarship Boy” by Richard Rodriguez and “Cultural Literacy” by E.D. Hirsch.
Any young person at this age can experience a culture shock as easily as I did. This is what I learned from my experience. People get cultural shock when they get to the new country, but there was something weird happened with me on the plane. It pushed me to get culture shock earlier. It really can come at any time, however. In both stories, the authors also received a little bit of culture shock as well.
In Saudi Arabia there is something called Alabah for the women and Thowb for men. They are the traditional clothes for Saudi Arabian people. All the people who were with me on the plane had these clothes on when we left Saudi Arabia. Three hours before we landed in D.C I took short nap but it was really bad time for nap. Since I got my nap my problems just started. While I was sleeping all the people on the plane went to change their clothes from Saudi traditional clothes to the American style. I woke up after the nap and I saw different people. I thought in that time I went into deep sleep, and they changed my plane. I figured out they just changed their clothes. I knew that from the person who sat next to me.
As I said this nap was a bad idea, I didn’t know that when I was taking my nap the flight attendants were handing the papers for the immigration and I didn’t get one. We landed in D.C. and I went to immigration with only my passport. When it was my turn I gave the officer just the passport then he looked at me, and he was speaking in English. He didn’t know that I didn’t speak English. I couldn’t even understand his body language, but he was pointing to a table in the back of the lobby. I didn’t know what did he meant. I was looking for someone who can help me, but there wasn’t anyone who spoke Arabic in the lobby. After three hours there was a guy with his mom and he looked Arabic. He was coming to the same officer who I was with. I went to ask him if he spoke Arabic. Which he replied yes to . I asked for help because I really needed some guidance. He looked in my eyes then laughed; he said you look so tired. I laughed than told him what was going on with me. After that he understood what the problem was, then he took my passport and filled out my information. After all this the security finally allowed me access.
After I passed the immigration and took my bags, I had my other flight to Columbia SC. The problem was how could I find my other flight? I was looking for the same guy who helped me with immigration to help me again, but I couldn’t find him. The airport was very big. After I knew that I lost him I started to look for somebody else, but I couldn’t find any one. Then I remember one sentence in English when I used to take English in high school. It was where are you going? Then I went to ask the people where are you going? The people were looking to me with a weird look. Their look was saying it is not your business. I understood there was something wrong with my sentence. I started to show each person my ticket for the next flight. People were trying to tell me how I could find it, but they didn’t know that I didn’t speak in English. I was looking to their body language, until I got to my gate for the next flight.
After five hours of waiting. I got on the plane to get ready to take off to Columbia SC. After two hours of flying I landed in SC. I went to take my bags. While I was waiting my bags to come out, there was someone calling my name. I looked back and he was my cousin. He was waiting for me, because I called him when I was back home and told him that I am coming in that time on that day. Then I hugged him and I almost cried, as a feeling of relief, because I knew that time there is no more problems anymore.
In “Cultural Literacy” the author explained how one can gain the most insight of another culture. Experiences deem very important in priorities to learn culture. The author claimed “Believing that a few direct experiences would suffice to develop the skills needed.” (Page 35). This quote spoke to me significantly because by experiencing the culture in America, as I did, has brought me less homesickness. By engaging in these new activities, I began to worry less and less.
The next quote which was located from “Scholarship Boy” also spoke a lot to me. Rodriguez stated that “Always successful, I was always unconfident” (Page 17). This quote basically sums up my life. I succeed quite well but I never have confidence in myself. The reason for this is because even though I know the information, I always feel it is wrong. I think several other students feel this way as well. Being stuck in a new culture and country is different, and students that are international fear being made fun of. Maybe for pronunciation or something else.
Both of these assigned readings were quite relatable to my experience here in the United States. I have overcome many obstacles in my short time here but I have not given up. I enjoy Mercyhurst University very much because they truly care about us students. Teachers are always willing to help us when needed and for that I am grateful. I feel very successful because not everyone can experience all the troubles that are associated with being an international student.
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