Saturday, July 28, 2012

Culture Shock by Joey

Every day Texas Tech engineering students go on an expedition of walking and bus riding in order to travel through the city to get across the river to the Escuela Tecnica Superior de Ingenieros. ETSI is Sevilla’s school of engineering, and every morning TTU engineering student go to this school for our morning engineering classes. At the lively hour of nine o’clock in the morning, TTU engineering students will take either Statics or Thermodynamics 1. Our professors have very good connections with this school and often times will invite guest speakers to speak to the engineering students. These guest speakers could be representatives from engineering companies or staff members form ETSI.

For one of our presentations, Dr. Johan Wideberg from the engineering school came in to speak to us about culture shock. He explained this topic by giving us his life story and sharing with us his traveling experiences from the various places he has lived and worked. In the presentation, Dr. Wideberg broke culture shock into four phases: Honeymoon phase, Negotiation phase, Adjustment phase, and Mastery phase.

He explained that the Honeymoon phase is best associated with when you are first exposed to a new culture. Everything is new, exciting, and it seems like it is the best thing in the world. Everybody in the engineering group had such high spirits and it can be seen through their smiles. The excitement was just radiating from everyone. I know when I first came to Spain, I was bouncing all over the place. I wanted to get out and do things, see things, and experience everything I could. I was taking pictures of everything that had the slightest bit of interest.

If you are in a place long enough, you will eventually hit the Negotiation phase. This is where you become a little annoyed at the culture. You get a little bit frustrated at the language barrier and you begin to notice the faults of the place that you previously thought was so great. I am not sure about everybody else in the study abroad group, but I did. It can be difficult to accept the fact that not everybody will understand you. I believe that it might be mixed with a little bit of homesickness; and not seeing what you are used to (back in America).

After you pass through that phase, the next phase is Adjustment. This is where you begin to adapt the new culture and make it your own. You begin to build a positive attitude and get a deeper understanding of your surroundings. This phase is fairly obvious. The engineering students begin to go out and make their own experiences, travel to different places, try new things, try to understand, and share stories. I love this phase. You begin to feel comfortable in your surroundings and step out of your comfort zone. I know that I began to pick up some Spanish and push myself to learn more.

The final phase is the Mastery phase. It is complete mastery and adaptation to the culture. This phase is difficult to obtain. I know, personally, I have not gotten to the Mastery phase. I am still in the Adjustment phase and that is perfectly fine. The Mastery phase can take years to get and I have only been in Spain for two months.

The final topic that was discussed was Reverse Culture Shock. Basically it is the same phases but for when you go back to where you originally came from. More than likely, by the time you have gone thought the phases of culture shock and return home, things would have changed and it takes more time to adjust. What I am looking forward to the most when I return home is experiencing this reverse culture shock with America. It will be fascinating to see my home through different eyes.

Dean Al Sacco and Dr. Audra Morse, from the Whitacre College of Engineering, visited the TTU Seville Center and joined us during the presentation. (Dr. Anderson is to the right)

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