I Experienced Culture Shock In India

I Experienced Culture Shock In India

The culture shock I experienced while abroad came entirely complimentary.

Traveling is humbling, inspiring, and exciting. Whether you take a fourteen-hour flight to an exotic destination or simply road trip to another state, traveling is something that everyone should experience. One of the many benefits that come with traveling is learning how other societies and cultures differ from the one you are used to. Broadening your view on the world makes the planet seem a lot smaller when you realize that every person has their own chapter in history and every place has a story.

In December of 2017, I traveled to India. Although I booked a flight and a hotel room, the culture shock I experienced while abroad came entirely complimentary.

Culture shock, by definition, is “the feeling of disorientation experienced by someone who is suddenly subjected to an unfamiliar culture.” As soon as I stepped off the plane, a wave of panic unexplainably fell over me. My breathing became narrow and sharp and my vision blurry. I began stumbling over my words in rapid succession, trying so desperately to communicate to my mom that I was about to faint. I had no idea why.

I could feel my heart beating aggressively in every part of my being as my mind raced to understand what was happening to me. Was I having a heart attack? Is this what a seizure is like? Am I going to be okay? These irrational and terrifying thoughts were the ones that ran through my mind as I sat there, face flushing and pulse pounding. I couldn’t understand it at the time, but there was nothing wrong with my body. My mind, however, had just suffered an anxiety attack.

This anxiety would, unfortunately, continue until around half-way through the trip. Upon arrival at our hotel, the trunk of our car had to be searched. After exiting the car, we were divided by gender and had to walk through a metal detector, then get frisked head to toe. This was a reoccurring practice that took place almost everywhere we went.

Our arrival time at the hotel was roughly around 4:00 a.m. However, jet lag paired with anxiety is a wonderful thing, and I can’t say I slept that night.

The next day, we drove to the city of Agra to visit the Taj Mahal. This was our first full day out and about. It was a three hour drive in the middle of nowhere. In India, drivers don’t exactly follow the rules of the road. The best phrase I could use to describe what it’s like to drive in India would be “controlled chaos.” Every half second, someone blares a horn or swerves across five unmarked lanes all at once.

There’s an ungodly amount of cars on the road, so you can bet the traffic is incomparable. Sitting in a car as the driver swerves through endless rickshaws, motorcyclists loaded up with four people, and stray animals is quite the stomach churner. However, to my disbelief, I didn’t witness any accidents (nor did anyone hit one of the million cows frantically clomping into the streets).

I am a blonde girl with green eyes and white skin. Why is this information important? Because not only did I stick out like a sore thumb, but everybody—and I mean everybody—stared at me. Picture yourself at Disneyland on a crowded day walking down Main Street, except every person that you pass intensely stares at you. Some people even ask to take your photo or reach out to touch you. That’s more or less what it was like.

One thing I noticed throughout my time in India was that there weren’t many women out and about in the streets. When I arrived at Agra, I stepped out of the car and a crowd of about twenty men began surrounding me and speaking to me, which made me very nervous. I couldn't understand it at the time, but the staring comes from a place of pure curiosity and interest, as blonde women are not very common to see in India.

Once we were in line for security at the Taj Mahal, the woman who was frisking me said, “you’re so white!” I had absolutely no idea how to respond, so I nervously replied, “I live in Oregon and we don’t get a lot of sun.” I’m unsure what happened with our language barrier, but this response made the woman seem very skeptical of me and she asked me to “repeat my statement,” then placed me into advanced security.

I will be honest and say that I was uncomfortable while in India. I truly experienced culture shock first-hand. Getting sick from everything I ate, stared at everywhere I went, and patted down upon entry into my hotel certainly were experiences out of my comfort zone. But that’s good. I shouldn't expect everything to be perfect and up to my Western standards of society when I travel.

India is a fascinating smorgasbord of sights, sounds, and smells. I believe that traveling throughout India for a week helped me appreciate the fact that every place lives differently. Not in a bad way, but simply different than what I’m used to. Culture shock is scary and confusing; but acknowledging that you feel uncomfortable is simply the first step to overcoming your fears and in turn, discovering everything this beautiful world has to offer.

Cover Image Credit: Hannah Neill

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7 Reasons Nepal Should Be Your Travel Destination This Summer

Get ready to pack your bags and visit a heaven on earth!

As summer is approaching, many of you might have started to plan how you are going to spend your vacation. Some of you might be taking classes or going to visit your family. For me, an ideal vacation would be spending time with your loved ones in a foreign country. You get to explore new cultures and gain a new perspective of life. Being from Nepal, I personally think Nepal is a perfect vacation destination. So, here are some of the reasons Nepal should be on your list this summer!

1. Perfect weather!

May through July is the beginning of summer in Nepal and it is really a great time of the year. Kathmandu, the capital city of Nepal, falls in the temperate zone and you won't have to worry about wearing your fur coats or getting sunburnt. Just make sure you have your sunglasses! The other good time to visit would be October through November as well but it starts to get cold if you want to head north.

2. Rich culture

Did you know that Nepal is the home of more than 120 ethnic groups? Though being a small country, it has a very diverse group of people. The main language being Nepali, more than a hundred dialects are spoken. The Kathmandu valley is also the home to the living goddess 'Kumari'. You can learn the various folk songs and dances and that will truly add to your understanding of the people in Nepal.

3. Friendly people

The people in Nepal are known for their hospitality, bravery and kind nature. There is a saying in Nepal that translates to 'Guests are Gods'. So, you will be welcomed wholeheartedly into their homes. No matter what ethnicity they belong to, you will always be greeted with a smile on their faces. You wouldn't want to miss meeting one of the world's loveliest people!

4. Fooooood!!

The food in Nepal is finger-licking delicious! The most popular and undoubtedly the tastiest food here is 'Mo:mo'. It is basically Nepali style dumpling with rich dipping sauce. Believe me, you are missing out on one of the best foods in the world. Also, don't forget to try the 'Thakali Khana Set', 'Gundruk and Dhindo' and the mouth-watering street foods. You wouldn't want to return to America unless you try those foods!

5. Unlimited adventures

Nepal has a diverse geography. Being a mountainous country, there are endless adventures you could indulge in. Seven out of the ten highest peaks in the world lie in Nepal. Make sure you go trekking to the 'Mustang' and 'Everest Base Camp'. You can go paragliding in 'Pokhara' and bungee-jumping in the 'Bhote-Koshi River'. The rivers are also well-suited for kayaking and rafting. Get ready to feel that adrenaline rush!

6. Awesome places to visit

Kathmandu is known as the city of temples. There are so many temples throughout the country, the primary reason being the majority of Hindus. They are built in 'Gajur-style' that will overwhelm you. You can also visit Lumbini, the birthplace of Lord Buddha. There are more than 6,000 rivers and rivulets, glaciers, and lakes that you should really visit. Home to so many rare animals like the Royal Bengal Tiger and One-horned Rhinoceros, the national parks are one of the major tourist attractions.

7. Lastly, Nepal fits your budget!

You can probably get a round-trip to Nepal starting at around 800 bucks. One dollar in the US is approximately equal to Rs.100 in Nepal. For $10, you can have a really great lunch and can travel around the valley for the whole day! So it really is an ideal vacation destination for the summer!

I would really recommend you guys visiting Nepal for one of the most memorable experiences of your life. You are going to understand a whole new perspective of peoples' lives and I tell you, you are going to love me for this suggestion!

Cover Image Credit: Sydney Nepal's Instagram

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A Life-Changing Experience That Inspired Me

"No dreamer is ever too small, no dream is every too big."- Anonymous

When I was younger. I would spent most of my breaks with my grandparents in Pakistan. This winter break, I went back thereafter over 3 years. I didn't remember much from my last visit, but every time I go to Pakistan, I feel incredibly heartbroken over the number of poverty-stricken people that live in the streets with no food or clean water. Giant heaps of trash and dirty roads would dominate some areas in this third-world country, and many beggars in the street are ignored by the upper classes. This trip helped me realize the harsh conditions that a great number of people have to face, and inspired me to do more.

Every year, my community holds a charity whose central goal is to alleviate poverty in the world. I have donated every year but I never knew the circumstances of the people who lived in poverty until I saw it with my own eyes. I have also volunteered at food banks and homeless shelters in Atlanta, but in Pakistan, I saw none.

Now, before I graduate high school, I want to go to back some of these third-world countries and volunteer to help people in poverty get a home and food to live off of and support their families. As a long term goal, I want to teach at a school there and help boys and girls get an education.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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