Cultural transition is one of the worst experiences a human being can go through. It seems, at times, as if you’ve changed worlds, and adjusting to this massive change drains more than energy; it drains your spirit.
Why does this happen? Is there an explanation for the difficulty in cultural change?
Recently, a friend of mine, Micah Winnberg, sent me a song. This wasn’t anything new, as my friends send me songs all the time, but the song itself was special. What first caught my attention was the thumbnail- the song’s writer was covered in tattoos and piercings. And, since 99% of my musical diet consists of Christian music, I was rather apprehensive. That level of body change often screams a disgusting artist. I had no idea how wrong I would be.
Intercontinental travel is part of being a missionary kid. Sure, businessmen and rich people all travel abroad, but missionaries and missionary kids alike travel, it seems, as often as we breathe. When discussions about the military arise, I always joke, “I’ll join the army; I would get seasick with the navy and I’ve had enough planes for a lifetime, so that just leaves one option.” Jokes aside, this is true. I can’t even count the amount of times I have been on an airplane, let alone the thousands of hours driving to particular destinations.
Despite being a “veteran” within traveling, there are still several changes that affect me greatly when changing countries or even continents. Indeed, the latter proves to be far more difficult, as country changes usually stay within continents, reducing the cultural change therein. Driving from Uganda to Kenya will prove far easier then flying from Uganda to the United States. The differences between Uganda and Kenya, while existent, are minimal compared to the differences between Uganda and the USA. These changes are massive, and despite the experience I have in “continent hopping”, they still hit me like a punch in the gut. Some, such as jet lag, can be reduced with experience, but there are four others that seem particularly difficult to avoid.