culture shock

“How did you experience culture shock since your arrival at Cornell” read the seventh question on the table at “Avi Shabbat,” a shabbat in memory of an IDF soldier who went to Brown and was killed by a drunk driver. He was passionate about interfaith dialogue, so Hillel’s Cultural Programming Committee created an interfaith shabbat, with Mecca, in his memory.

I hadn’t thought about that question. Since I’ve arrived at Cornell, everything started happening instantly. There have been so many changes and things that I had to adapt to that I haven’t even had time to stop and think about it.

The Modern Orthodox community of the New York area is very cosmopolitan. Although my good friends have always been Jewish and that has changed, I always knew people of different, races, ethnicities, and cultures. Having now best friends who aren’t Jewish was a change, but not a shock.

Perhaps a bigger shock was the different backgrounds and family situations that Cornell students come from. My high school and my community at home is (by majority) high income. Even those who aren’t well-off appear to be because the community supports them. In addition to this, almost everyone has a stable home situation, and very few people even come from divorced homes. Meeting people from single-mother families, people with no parents, and people who have no support from their parents was a big culture shock.

On a day to day basis, all Cornell students basically appear to live the same lives. They go to classes, go to the library, and have fun on the weekend. In reality, however, there are students who in addition to this are worrying about the financial state of their family. There are students who are worrying about coming out to their families. Everyone has personal struggles and being exposed to these struggles has been eye-opening, and yes, at times- shocking.

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