I have been here for about a month and I enjoy it so far. I know that I will experience culture shock at some point during my time here. Some say that I am anticipating it, maybe it’s true, but it is also reality as well. I’m not trying to guess when it’ll happen I just know it’ll happen at some point. A friend once told me one of the things she notice most in foreigners when they visit her country was the food. The foods there are “too weird” for most foreigners, which I’m glad it’s not the case for me.
Since I have been here my greatest frustrations so far has been looking like the local and not being able to speak or read the language. I know it’s only been a few weeks in and it was something that I had already anticipated but it’s different this time from previous experiences. In previous experiences I have been there only for a short term basis. I knew I was going to leave in a couple weeks so that okay; it was something that I can deal with.
Now it’s a 180 degree turn, it’s no longer a short term stay but a long term stay. Since I cannot read/recognize Chinese characters or speak it, it hinders me from going into some places. I have the desire to go into certain places but fear keeps me from going to certain places. I know that in time I’ll be able to do more but frustrations are here now; maybe this is my culture shock right now. The frustrated foreigner, hindered from my own inability to know the language. I am a mute for now.
When I go into certain big box stores I do one of two things, one, if I am looking at non-food items and a sales person approach me, and I wait for the person to be done. Then I point to myself and say “meiguo”, which is American in Chinese. If I am purchasing something I look at where they are pointing to know where I am going. If I am not buying then they leave me be.
The other thing that would happen is when I buy food items. The sales people would point to certain things and say something about it or it would be samples that they are passing out. If it is a sample I would take it. When there is no sample I just nod my head. I know they are trying to help me decide by giving their opinions but I don’t understand what they are saying.