OMS Outreach Online May-August 2022 - Page 6

We Do Not Walk Alone

By P *, Asia / Pacific Regional Director
It is hard for people who have mainly lived in one country to relate to culture shock . Really , “ culture shock ” is not a great term for what happens . “ Culture stress ” may be a clearer representation . The experience can be a steady buildup of confusion and anxiety .
After the exciting “ honeymoon phase ” of landing in an exotic new place , an unsettling feeling comes . You realize you don ’ t really understand what is happening around you . You become more aware of your lack of control and feel the humiliating sting of being illiterate and unable to communicate . People smile with pity at the blundering foreigner . Sometimes , they stifle a giggle as you bumble along . Sometimes , they don ’ t .
Beads of sweat build on your brow as you line up to buy a simple bag of chips at the corner store ; your brain frantically rehearses the words you need to say . The little boy in front of you effortlessly pays for his snack and orders a slushy . You envy his ability to speak . Finally , you arrive at the counter , and your tongue contorts , trying to make the sounds necessary to purchase your chips . Then , you open your wallet , which is filled with strange coins and bills . Like a toddler , you hold it up and trust the clerk to only take what you owe him . That is when