Culture Shock

Tara and I went shopping today and ended up walking around a small part of city. And I found myself exceptionally overwhelmed.

There is a big difference between seeing something from car windows and being outside of the car in the thick of it all. The experience I had today seeing the city and walking around, for the maybe five minutes that we were out of the car, resulted in two reactions: one was the desperate need to hide somewhere for a good long while and the other was the just stand in the middle of the hustle and bustle and stare until my brain could comprehend what it was seeing.

Since neither option is really available, writing is the next best thing. I had been comparing Dhaka to my experiences in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, at least from what I could see through the car windows. But being outside in it…Dhaka went way past Mexico.

I think that’s called culture shock.

In my ignorance and naivete, I thought I could get by without having culture shock. Cause I’ve read about Dhaka and places like it. I’ve seen documentaries on Dhaka and places like it. Ugh…how prideful can I be???

Dhaka is a really beautiful city. Despite the overwhelmed brain mess from earlier today, I’m trying to still see the beauty. There is a lot of things in the city that I’m not familiar or comfortable with, and that’s alright. But trying to discern between what is cultural or different and what is just heartbreaking (when you get past the obvious ones, like malnutrition and education that are pretty black and white) is really hard. Tara and I talked about asking questions and not coming up with answers and I think this might be one of those questions.

And too, I guess culture shock is essential, even if I wish I was one of those people who could travel and never get jet-lagged and accept everything that they saw with ease. Maybe some day I’ll get there, but I haven’t yet. And I want to just see what I’m seeing and be where I am and absorb it all. Even if it’s different or scary or thrilling or confusing. It’s a part of this world that God created and as such I want to see it through His eyes. many of them and all over the place.

Billboards…so many of them and all over the place.


4 thoughts on “Culture Shock

  1. Your honest reflections on the stress of entering into life with people of a very different “normal” reminds me of the travels I’ve been blessed to have. Thanks for being yourself and allowing us to be part of your story. Mark

  2. Oh, how I can relate to this post, in experiences I’ve had in the middle East and Sierra Leone! It brings in all back to me vividly. Very few people allow themselves to be put into situations where they are “shocked” by such a different culture; this is part of having those new eyes of God that you are wanting to have. Savor every moment! Love Terri

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