Hi everyone! It’s been so fun hearing about your adventures in Barcelona, or Amsterdam. Or Berlin, London, Copenhagen, Rome, Paris, Copenhagen, Dublin, Copenhagen, Munich, Milan, Copenhagen, and Copen-fuckin-hagen. Really enjoy all the blogs and stuff. Great photos y’all are posting of you all drinking. You just always seem to be drinking. Drinking enormous glasses of wine, and enormous beers, enormous absinths (absinthii?). Drinking, shamelessly, legally, happily. Carefree alcohol consumption in public parks and in pubs and in beautiful museums and under Eiffel Towers and Roman Arches and so many lovely places where you can get shitfaced and meet local people who speak better English than you do. Keep ‘em comin!
This is kind of awkward, but I just have a few suggestions from those of us studying abroad not in the First World. Really, feel free to take them or leave them. We don’t want to be that guy or anything, just some points we’d like you to consider.
We’ve noticed, on those rare and precious occasions we have internet, that a lot of you have posted a few Facebook statuses about culture shock. Now no one is telling you not to feel those feelings. But maybe before expressing those feelings with, say, the words “culture shock” you could take a deep breath count to ten, and stop being such a fucking baby. Before you talk about culture shock maybe ask yourselves a few questions about…
Your Host City
- Are the streets covered in shit? Not shit as in, stuff, or trash. Shit as in shit. Animal shit, or perhaps human shit. Does it smell like shit? Does it smell like dead cat? Are there pathetic dead poisoned, DDT smothered felines draped over sidewalks?
- Do you have a public transit system? A metro perhaps? Maybe busses, specifically ones that have been free of bombings or brutal murders for the past few years?
- Do taxis go where you tell them to? Do they accept the fare indicated on the meter? Have the drivers ever asked you to marry them or one of their relatives?
- Are there traffic lights? Does traffic include donkeys, camels, or other beasts of burden? Are there traffic laws? Are there trafficking laws? On a scale of 1 to “Hide” how much are they enforced?
- How often are there protests? How often are those protests covered in the New York Times?
- Did your orientation have a slide about sexual harassment or a day about sexual harassment?
Your Host Culture
- Is there a casualty rate at weddings because the groom’s family burns a clip straight up into the air and sometimes the bullets come back down into the heads of bystanders? Do you think I’m fucking kidding?
- Are you allowed to reveal your calves and shoulders?
- Is alcohol allowed, maybe even encouraged? Or do you have to hide from your host family the fact you are mildly tipsy off three Amstel Lites like a sophomore in high school, through a series of elaborate Ocean-11-esque ruses and Winterfresh gum?
- Can you smoke medical grade marijuana in a coffee shop?
- Have you had a sexual encounter recently? Perhaps at a club? You guys all seem to be going to a lot of pretty swanky clubs with pretty swanky people who expose their shoulders. Perhaps this encounter was with a local? All the locals you guys post pictures of seem to be really tall and blonde and exposed shoulders-y. Or maybe with someone on your program, because you all have apartments with kitchenettes and you don’t have to worry about sexiling your conservative Muslim host grandmother.
How many times have you watched a dubbed 90’s Nicolas Cage movie on TV because that somehow was the least insane show on television?
- Have you ever contemplated taking a human life for internet?
- Can you drink the water? Can you drink the water without shitting yourself?
- If you do drink the water and shit yourself, is there toilet paper? And can you flush your toilet paper? Or is your toilet a hole in the floor?
- Is your shower just a spigot above the poo hole in the floor? Have you ever lost your soap down the poo hole?
- Does it use the same alphabet as English?
- Is it one of English’s root languages?
- Is it a goddamn Romance language?
- Are there words that are the same as English words, but just sound a little funny?
- Or is it just fucking English with an accent (I’m looking at you kids “abroad” in England)
- Are there any sounds in this language that are literally indescribable with letters? Sounds like a’AUyng, HHHHH, gnynnh, “!”, or *gargle*?
- How close are you to an active war zone?
- How many refugees does your country have? How many has your country caused?
- How many regional leaders are guilty of crimes against humanity?
- Did you get an orientation briefing about dealing with the secret police?
- Was your country’s most recent sectarian conflict started by Martin Fucking Luther?
- Has the US invaded any neighboring countries since World War 2?
- If you really wanted to, could you join a Death Squad?
We think that, after asking yourselves these simple questions, you might end up being a little more responsible with the term culture shock.
So (and we mean this with all the love in the world) we would all really appreciate it if those of you in NATO member states would check your shit for a hot second before posting a status about how hard culture shock is, and refrain from accompanying it with a YouTube video of a sad cat that I can’t watch on my hand-crank internet. Meanwhile, if you are in South Korea, you can’t play either, what with your nationwide Wifi. How’s the future spaceman? Bring me back a jetpack and some Soilent Green.
In short, y’all can be homesick, just don’t fucking talk to us about it. On the other hand, if you’re one of the poor souls in Sub-Saharan Africa—mad props. Keep up the struggle.
– Dante Toppo CMC ’15