Culture Shock: An Integration in a New Country
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February 21, 2011
The word ‘CULTURE’ has been derived from the Latin word ‘CULTURA’ which means to cultivate, to grow (Harper 2010). Anthropologist Edward B. Taylor, defines culture as “That complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, law, morals, custom, and any other capabilities and habits.” (O’Neil 2006). This is the basic premise that beliefs, morals, and customs are all based on one’s culture. In the essay, “No Place Like Home” by Neil Bissoondath, the author describes how multiculturalism creates uneasiness on different levels to immigrants in Canada. The author points that Canada’s Multicultural Act, focuses on cultural uniqueness rather than cultural integration that has provided for stereotypes and other problems for ethnic minorities in the country. Bissoondath is describing people of different cultures are put into different genres regardless of where they come from. Any disorientation, uneasiness, and insecurity they feel when they encounter cultures radically different from their own such as religion, skin colour, language, lifestyle, is considered to be culture shock. 2
Living in a new country can have its share of difficulties, but at the same time provide insights into a whole new culture. India is known as the melting point of different cultures, each one unique in its own respect from the art, food, religion, language, lifestyle and politics. When I was 15 years old, my father, who is an accountant by profession, accepted a job offer to work for KPMG India. The KPMG branch was located in Bangalore. My parents, originally from Bangalore, moved to Canada in the 1980’s. They were thrilled by the opportunity to visit India and my relatives after a very long time. However, the case of leaving all my high school friends, the food, entertainment and lifestyle behind and moving to country I had left behind when I was 2 years old, was almost too unbearable. Furthermore, the case of adjusting to a whole new system of values and customs was strange and overwhelming to digest.
After a 15 hour flight, we arrived in Bangalore, India. I along with the family explored different places within the city of Bangalore and neighbouring states as well. While there were large shopping malls, monuments (palaces religious and spirituals sites, museums) and neighborhoods of varying cultures, they all had a couple of common traits. They all smelled, the road trips were a roller coaster ride, and they were all filled with poverty.
Adjusting to the day to day activities took quite a while. As Bissoondath stated, “Within days I realized the extent of the change that had occurred not only to me, but to all I had left behind” (Bissoondath 365). The dirt and smells I encountered not only shocked me but is was the worst thing about the country. The stench of garbage, which was collected every twelve days, occasional overflow of sewage, lack of sanitation, heavy pollution in the air were common everyday sights that became part of my life living in this country which I eventually got used too. In addition, one word perfectly describes the roads in India, ‘Mayhem.’ Smaller vehicles, motorcycles and cycles, usually give way to larger vehicles (trucks, buses, SUV) that command the roads. There are no separate lanes for cycles and drivers weave all across the road, in and out of traffic, and overtake from north and south directions. The roads within the city of Bangalore are full of pot holes, partially dug up, and do not contain a single speed bump. On the other hand, the highway road conditions have improved dramatically over the years with each containing smooth paved three lanes in each direction. The sounds I experienced in India were unique, unlike North America. The people love to use their horns while driving their vehicles. For instance, they will honk when turning corners, overtaking, or...