One of the themes of my memoir GOOD CHINESE WIFE is culture shock. Before my first marriage, I thought culture shock was a sign of weakness.
So it was quite disconcerting when I found myself in the throes of culture shock in the mid-1990s when I often traveled to mainland China with my then-husband. (We lived in Hong Kong when we weren’t on the mainland.)
Rather than admit I was experiencing culture shock, I tried to hold it in and carry on as if I didn’t mind that the whole family napped for a couple hours each day.
Or that we trekked across town in 100 degree heat and high humidity, only to find that their friends weren’t home. Those types of things normally wouldn’t bother me, so I didn’t understand why I felt so isolated and lonely in China.
Interestingly enough, I never felt homesick in Hong Kong, even though I moved there not knowing a soul. On the other hand, I never once traveled alone in China.
For a couple of weeks one summer, my parents, uncle and brother visited us in China. My days brightened up then, although I didn’t long to return to the US. I just wanted to get back to my life–and marriage–in Hong Kong.
Have you ever experienced culture shock? How did you deal with it?