Week 1 of the program has finished, and it has been a success so far. After moving in and meeting the other students, all the nerves that I had were gone. Besides attending class on Thursday and Friday, the program coordinators planned a scavenger hunt and had us running around the whole campus looking for buildings. Luckily, I was able to find my classrooms on the first day because of the scavenger hunt. By the end of this first week, I already feel settled and feel as though the area, the environment, and part of the culture is familiar.
Culture shock is defined as “the feeling of disorientation experienced by someone when they are suddenly subjected to an unfamiliar culture, way or life, or set of attitudes.” Prior to my arrival in Cork, I knew to expect some cultural differences, however, the longer I stay the less differences that I see. As an international student from Bermuda, I had already experienced a culture shock when moving to Philadelphia to attend Drexel University. This study abroad has provided me with a unique opportunity to compare 3 different cultures. Within just the few days that I have been in Cork, I have noticed that I did experience a slight culture shock, but not as much as when I first moved from Bermuda to Drexel.
I’ve been more shocked that I can find some similarities between Cork, Bermuda, and Philadelphia instead of experiencing a complete culture shock. For the most part, the food, music, attitude of the locals, have been more similar to the cultures I’ve experienced than what I expected. The food, especially the cafeteria food, is like a regular meal with meat and vegetables and a starch as well as wraps and sandwiches. I expected to try new foods and to try “traditional irish foods”, however, within a week I’ve realized that traditional foods don’t necessarily mean strange. Although there are similarities in the dishes (even though the combination and presentation of them may be different), there’s one big difference between European culture and American culture. There’s a switch for everything – hot water, outlets, lights, the oven and other electrical appliances. If anything is ever broken or not working, check to see if the switch is on before calling maintenance. It is definitely going to take some time to get used to switching appliances on and off when needing to use them.
Although culture shock can evoke feelings of isolation and alienation, I’m glad to be in a country where they’re friendly and welcoming which helps to make this transition and adaption much easier than I thought it would be.