As much as my life is personally built upon a foundation of maintaining strong family values and traditions, I’m all too aware of the rapid nature in which the world is moving along and changing. Globalisation is very much upon us, says the woman whose mixed heritage is of Ghanaian origins.
Looking back on my life and how I came to be who I am today and where I am today, I cannot help but come to the conclusion that I’ve perhaps experienced a lot more culture shocks than the average person. Thinking about how things differ across borders in West Africa alone could have me drawing on a plethora of first-hand experiences of what a culture shock really is and things would get even more interesting if I included that transitional period of my life when we made our way across the seas and moved over to London, England.
So I reckon I am indeed the right type of person to not only comment about what culture shock really is but also to perhaps give some advice on how best to handle it.
Look, I’m not talking about the more pleasurable side of what culture shock is and how to deal with it. I mean it’s easy to deal with a culture shock from the point of view of someone who is just inquisitive and in their curiosity to learn about other cultures goes out of their way to experience those cultures. What I’m talking about is finding yourself in a situation where you have no choice but to have to deal with a certain culture shock which arises out of a situation such as perhaps being in an interracial relationship or maybe even choosing to go ahead and marry cross-culturally.
To the onlooker whose interaction with this type of culture shock is limited to their curiosity by way of how a cross-cultural family function, they’re perhaps fortunate that they don’t themselves have to deal with all those little nuances. Spare a though for those who are in the thick of it, however, as I can imagine how daunting it must be just having to think about it. So imagine having to actually deal with it!
Fortunately though a lot more people are onboard with the view that we live in an ever-changing world which is evolving faster than it ever did, so you will never be alone in having to deal with any situation that makes for a culture shock, even and especially if it’s a situation which is much closer to home, like being in a cross-cultural relationship.
The ultimate key to effectively dealing with culture shock is keeping an open mind and that together with the diligence to educate others about your own culture and beliefs makes for the ultimate culture shock absorber.
It’s a (not so) simple matter of keeping an open mind about learning the reasons why certain things are done the way they are, including some of those things which are done as part of your own culture. When one is armed with this knowledge then it’s much easier to soften the culture shock blow.