Culture shock is the anxiety felt when one must function inside a culture that is different then their own. This can result in a dislike of certain aspects of the new culture. If you are looking for a less textbook definition – culture shock are those things that illicit the response of, “that’s weird.”
Culture shock is not a onetime thing that you get over. The more time you spend in a new culture the more it weighs on you. It is as if every time you are shocked or surprised by something a pebble is added into your backpack.
Culture shock is not the big things…like language, food or driving…those are expected. It is the hundreds or thousands of things that you see every day, seven days a week. And, each time you are aware of a cultural difference it is a subtle reminder that YOU are the one that is different in the new culture, not them.
Over time, mix in a little doubt or sin, and you begin to wonder if you will ever “fit in.” The simple answer is NO, you will NEVER fit in, not completely. In fact if you spend enough time assimilating to your new culture you will no longer fit in to your old culture. This battle with culture is a minute-by-minute reminder that it will never be easy.
But, here is the thing; the sooner you realize you will never fully fit in the better off you are. For us that has been a difficult realization. However, it has helped with a major spiritual lesson. We are not meant to fit in here in Honduras, nor back in the U.S. The Bible tells us in 1Peter 2:11 that we are all aliens and strangers in this world. We do not belong here. Christians are all cross-cultural missionaries in a world that we are not part of.
The constant reminder that we do not fit in to the culture in Honduras is a constant reminder that we shouldn’t. All Christians should stand apart from the culture of this world and not strive to fit in.