Monday, August 2, 2010


My dear friends, do not worry about me. The worst culture shock has subsided, and I have periods of happiness and/or excitement these days. I'm not angry anymore at those I've never met, and some people are really amazing. Twice in the past two weeks, I have had my breakfast paid-for and been given lifts to work. I just came back from an amazing weekend (well, from Saturday at about 10:30 PM until Sunday at about 7:00 PM) trip to Ninh Bình. I am busy at work - this is a state of being that I haven't experienced in a long time. Not surprisingly, the eight-month-and-one-week clock in my head has grown much quieter.


  1. Glad to hear it Josh! I remember from some training or other someone said that the lower your culture shock is, the more you'll feel you got out of your experience in the end and the more positive of an experience it is in the long run. Who knows, but glad to hear that you understand that it's temporary and you're learning from it!

  2. Perhaps they stare because you're so pretty? (you're not foreign; you're exotic =P)

    In any case, glad to hear things aren't quite as dire as I first thought. I'm sure you'll grow accustomed to it eventually (if nothing else, you always have the resilience of youth to fall back on, yeah?). Considering that you've only had a few weeks to pick up on things that they've spent their whole lives learning, you don't seem to be doing too bad. Many aspects of the culture are only for the lifers, after all.

    Though I do have some thoughts on your thoughts on multiculturalism. I agree that culture can be described as what a group of people values, and what they do in the service of those values. With this in mind I would say that multiculturalism is a numbers game. In order for a group of people to maintain a distinct cultural identity, they require a population of a certain size who practice the traditions and uphold the values of said culture. Suppose you have several cultures that have achieved this in close proximity. If you want to meaningfully interact with someone from a different culture you'll need to find things in common. In the case of Toronto, we already have a system in place that can act as a good interface between people of two different cultures; Western culture. Culture shock is thus avoided because we already have a set of rules and social norms that we know to follow when dealing with those unlike ourselves. People from sufficiently alien cultures (who feel it is necessary/beneficial) will adopt their own culture when dealing with their people and western culture when dealing with everyone else. Thoughts?

  3. Ange: I heard that too! I think that my culture shock was pretty mild, as far as culture shock goes. My mood had improved by the next day and, on average, hasn't worsened since. Even if my culture shock wasn't severe, I hope that my experience is really positive.

    Michael: Hmm...I agree with some of what you said, Michael. It can be said that Canada is multicultural but that Canadians who are raised upholding Western norms and who never use non-Western norms in interacting with (certain) people are not multicultural. But non-Western cultures are based on assumptions that contradict Western assumptions absolutely (for example, Westerners tend to believe that honesty is more important than saving face, while people of some other cultures tend to believe that saving face is more important than honesty). I have a feeling that I will be a very internally-conflicted person when I return to Canada...but let's not talk about my return to Canada. I am dreading the fifteen-hour flight I will have to endure.

  4. definitely agree with your thoughts on multiculturalism, josh. and mikey. :)

    i'm kind of catching up on posts haphazardly (or, well, i have kind of a system-- top down), but i think my comments on the above post-- about people staring at me (or others who appear somehow visibly of a different culture, whether that be through the presence of symbols expressing their adherence to a different faith group on their person or otherwise) in toronto, which is supposedly the most multicultural city in the world-- speak to this "sham" of multiculturalism.