June 11, Tuesday – There must be a misunderstanding…

By Tiffany Abera

Interesting is what described today.  We had to have a meeting with the program manager to fill out some volunteer forms for KVI. Only thing that they failed to realize was that we are not volunteers, but interns. Quite different.  They also weren’t aware of how we got to KVI. They should join the club that says we are unsure of how we got here. Despite the lack of information we filled out the forms and went along with the process.

Also, on a side note if you are going to have forms that are going to be passed around for everyone to see, please I beg you to run it through spell check.  I was not asked to but I made a few corrections to help.

I still don’t have my internet card and research is going slowly. Really slow. It feels strange to be working on someone else’s schedule and not able to do things on my own time. Back home if I am given an assignment I usually get started right away.  Here, that is not always possible.  Resources such as money, time, and even government restraints can hinder the business and communication process.  In this way I am experiencing Schumann’s Theory of Acculturation or culture shock.  Actually I thought I was going to go through the stages with only a slight difference because I am married to an Ethiopian and I thought that I was prepared.  However, there is NOTHING like dealing with it in reality.  There are several stages which I will describe below that some people may experience while traveling abroad.  Others have a more harsh time while others may have an easier time transitioning.

Stage 1 – Honeymoon Phase: where everything seems fun and you are open to new things. It’s exciting and new!

Stage 2 – Negotiation Phase: you start to notice the differences between the new culture to the home culture.  This may cause some anxiety, frustration and most importantly a breakdown in communication.

Stage 3 – Adjustment Phase: you calm down and begin to feel more at peace with the culture and your surroundings.  You feel more capable to handle problems and have a more positive outlook on life in the new culture.

Stage 4 – Mastery Phase: you are fully integrated into the society. This doesn’t mean you lose your old habits, but instead gain new ways of life to adapt to the culture.

There are also several outcomes that may arise at the end of culture shock.

1)      The person may become fully integrated into the society, even totally losing their original and old habits and ideals.

2)      The person may adapt to the culture by creating their own blend of the cultures; keeping positive parts of the new and mixing with the old.

3)      The person may completely reject the new culture and may isolate themselves from the new culture until it is time to return back to their original home.

I think I am somewhere between Stage 2 & 3.

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