Culture Shock – Part 1

“What on earth is this?!”

The sentence above is probably the most encountered sentence in the history of culture shock. Utter the phrase “culture shock” to anyone who’s lived abroad and it would bring back memories of when they first came. Culture shock might seem like a frightening idea, but it’s a necessary stage of life for anyone who’s studying (or living) abroad. Don’t fight it—just go with the flow.

So, what is culture shock? defines it as a “sudden exposure to different culture.” It’s when you move somewhere and that somewhere is totally different from where you come from, so you feel kind of disoriented and confused. But as I’ve said before, it’s normal.

If you’re a student from Indonesia looking to continue your education at Green River, well then, I’m going to try to ease your mind and give you some hints on the things in America that are totally different from Indonesia. America and Indonesia are across the globe from each other, so there’s no doubt that the culture and environment are completely different.

There are ten entries in this post, so I will post this entire blogpost through 5 consecutive days: 2 entries on each day.

No #1: Americans are so friendly!

Now, I’m not saying that people in Indonesia aren’t friendly. It’s just that when you’re in Indonesia, and let’s say you go to the grocery store and are about to pay for your things. You go to the cashier, and there’s gonna be zero conversation with the cashier. Well, they might say something like “Good evening” or “Welcome to Alfamart” or something like that, but that is totally different from what happens here. In America, when you enter a store, let it be a grocery store or a factory outlet, you’re gonna be greeted by at least one person. When I first came here, my Dad accompanied me and we went to this factory outlet. The first store we entered, one of the employees greeted us, “Good afternoon! How are you doing today? We are currently having a sale on t-shirts up to 70%, or you can buy one of these jeans and get another one 50% off! If you need any assistance please let me know.” And that person didn’t just leave us there; they were waiting for us to actually give them an answer, like “Oh alright, thanks!” or maybe “I’m good thank you, how about you?” I might be exaggerating but I found this really cool. I wonder why people don’t do this in Indonesia, because obviously, you would prefer going to a store whose employees are nice and friendly rather than going to a store in which the employees don’t even bother to say hello. This remembers me to that time when I was in this store in Indonesia looking for pencils and pens, and this employee kept following me like I was about to rob something. Now that was creepy. I mean, if you want to check whether the customers are finding the things they want, you can just go and ask them instead of follow them in such a disturbing way.

Another example of American kindness is when you alight from a bus and everybody says “Thank you!” to the bus driver, and the driver replies with something like “You’re welcome, and have a nice day” or “Thanks, have a good one!” I rarely ever see bus drivers or angkot drivers or even ojeks say this to their customers.

No #2: America is huuuuuge.

I know; Indonesia is a big country too. However, the fact that the total area of the States is nearly 5 times that of Indonesia (USA: 9.8 million km2, INA: 1.9 million km2) means a lot. In Indonesia, you’ll see that we try to conserve as much space as possible. Malls are always several levels high with underground parking slots. Schools, hospitals, restaurants, shopping outlets are all built upwards. In contrary to that, in the US, I feel that a lot of buildings are designed outwards rather than upwards. The closest shopping mall from Green River, Supermall, is a hundred percent different from what we Indonesians normally see in our home country. Take for instance Pondok Indah Mall. Yes, it’s kind of long, but it’s several stories up. Supermall is only 1 level high (or should I say, short) and it takes up a looooot of space. Not to mention it’s surrounded by a huge parking lot. In Indonesia, we’d never waste our land for parking lots!

Check out my other blogposts! Click here to read my second, third, fourth and fifth blogposts!


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