About this sample
About this sample
Words: 738 |
4 min read
Published: Nov 5, 2020
Words: 738|Pages: 2|4 min read
A time I had faced “culture shock” was when I was seven years old and had arrived to the United States from a country known as United Arab Emirates, or U.A.E. Prior to arriving in the U.S., I grew up in the predominantly Muslim emirate of Sharjah, next to the world-famous emirate and city Dubai. In my neighborhood, many people were either of a south Asian background or were Emirati. This means that growing up, everything that I saw and heard was from either a middle eastern person or south asian person. At seven years old, I was well aware that different types of languages and religions existed because many of my neighbors were Muslim, and my family’s background is Hindu. My family spoke Bengali, while my neighbors spoke either Arabic, Hindi, Urdu, Malayalam, Tamil. However, that was the extent of my knowledge about the world in person.
As a child, I was really into cartoons so I watched the TV. And so I watched many cartoon shows such as Dora the Explorer and The Magic School Bus. I followed along very intently and would frequently disrupt my father watching cricket in order to follow Dora about “hola”, “uno, dos, thres” and “rojo” or “azul”. Yet, I had never heard those phrases being spoken out loud by anyone else. In fact, I had never even seen a Hispanic person before in my life. And so I honestly believed that the language Dora was speaking, Spanish, was a made-up language! With The Magic School Bus, I enjoyed a lot of the lessons from the teacher Ms. Frizzle. But the reason why I just could not stop looking at the characters was because they looked so different from the people I had seen before in real life! I understood that there was a variation in skin colour since my father is on the darker side and my mother is very pale, but I had not come across people with very different facial features. I had never seen an African person before in my life, or a Caucasian person with red hair, or an East Asian person.
When I first arrived at the John F. Kennedy airport, I was immediately overwhelmed just by observing the environment around me. I noticed that there were hundreds of people frantically scurrying away to various locations. In addition, I noted that this was the most diverse crowd I had ever witnessed in my seven-year old life. I saw white people, Hispanic people, black people, East Asian people. There were people from all over the world, which was not a common sight to see in Sharjah back in 2008 and still extremely foreign in my parents’ native country Bangladesh today. During the three hours my family and I were stuck at the airport, I could not stop asking my mother questions about the people passing by: “Why does this person have big hair?”, “Why does this lady have such blue eyes?”, “How is that family so dark?” are just a few of the questions I asked. I was in awe and scared at the same time of my new surroundings.
That year, I was admitted into first grade. I refused to talk to anybody due to the fact that everyone looked extremely divergent. Even though I knew fluent English, I was so frightened to open up. I didn’t look like the other kids, I did not exactly speak like them, dress similarly to them, so I assumed I didn’t think exactly like them either. I perceived many differences from the moment I arrived in this country. For instance, I noted that one could not just go around and address ‘good morning’ to everyone. Another example is that in Sharjah, I attended a private school so I had to depend on my family providing my lunch for me but in my Brooklyn elementary school, lunch was free. I felt as if I were taking advantage so I tried to take less. I was surprised to hear Spanish from some classmates too!
Due to my inexperience with the American culture I faced a cultural shock. Coming from an almost homogeneous neighborhood, I came into the U.S. without knowing much about the culture, and so I was confused about why the people were so diverse. However, now I am aware that everyone living in America is viewed as American, despite where they ethnically might be from.
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