Language And Culture Shock - Argentina, South America
- By Indu Shanmugam
- Published 06/28/2008
Indu Shanmugam is a 20-something, college student from Oregon, USA. She is majoring in English literature and language. She also studied Theology for a short period. She wants to be a teacher. As a literature enthusiast, she enjoys literature of all types and from writers of various backgrounds from the classics, French realists, Christian writings like C.S Lewis and South Asian literature. As for her own writings, "I am still trying to find and develop my own voice." She sees the art of the written word as a way to speak about Christ and explore truth. Before she met Jesus Christ, she has been searching for the meaning of life through experimentation of other religions, philosophies and ideas. At the age of 17, she accepted Christ after a powerful encounter with God through a miracle. God's presence and deep truths in the Bible fuel her creativity. She is involved in church activities and has a love for the church and would like to see every believer grow, become closer to God and live fruitfully. She loves traveling, sipping bubble teas, theatre, music, films and hanging out with friends and has a weakness for cheesecake.
Last night, I was somewhat cranky. I´m feeling a bit overwhelmed with the language and differences in food. I feel that the food is just sitting in my stomach and sometimes making me feel nauseated. Just when I thought ¨At least the food isn´t too weird,¨ I had this fried fish with tomato sauce, layered with slices of ham and drenched mozzarella cheese as topping. I couldn´t eat the whole thing but I didn´t want to appear rude so I made myself scarf it down. Oh, gosh! I didn´t throw up or anything but carried that sick feeling all day.
As for language, last night I got over the fear barrier and started practicing my Spanish. I´m a bit more comfortable following the Argentine accent. I didn´t mention this but when we came back from Salsa dancing on Wednesday, we took a taxi back and I was the last one to be dropped. I was too tired that I forgot the name of the cross street. That made me more nervous and I forgot my Spanish. The taxi driver looked at me funny. In a second I remembered and was able to tell him where to go and told him that I´m not very fluent in Spanish. When he realized that I was a foreigner, he seemed more understanding. I felt like an idiot.
In the evening, Mariela is at work. I had time alone to have tea and watch TV so that I could get used to the accent. I flip through the channels and stop at a talk show and it turned out to be a talk show about transversites, then I flipped through soap operas and news channels. It´s pretty interesting.
I stop and watch a children´s TV show. That´s easier for me to understand. I hoped I wouldn´t look too dorky if Mariela walks in. Mariela was impressed by how much I could understand and I can follow along conversations but it´s hard for me to speak. I get my point across. My Spanish is improving by the minute but it´s overwhelming at times to be completely immersed.
All this time there was excitement but now I´m starting to feel a bit homesick and getting culture shock. I miss my family, friends and familiarity of home. Yesterday, I didn´t want to go out anywhere. I didn´t want to talk to anyone. I pretty much stayed in my room, journaled, did my homework and working on my series of short stories. I slept early.
I prayed that I can put aside these feelings and enjoy as much as possible, get to know others, socialize, learn Spanish and adjust better.
Maria our site director pulled each of is aside and asked how everything is going with our host families and adjusting to Rosario. She said that what I´m experiencing is normal. It felt nice to relax and have time to myself. All this time I was socializing, checking out the city and going to the clubs.