Culture Shock

“It’s not like faces, you know, you don’t have like faces around you.”

For an extended version of this story, see below.

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In addition to the questions below, please see How to use the questions for reflection.

Clarifying Questions
  • Why is the culture of Valpo so shocking for this speaker?
  • How does the speaker feel when his classmate says, “Poor people are lazy?”
  • How does he feel when the cop asks him, “Why do you have such a nice car?”
  • What are norms for the speaker that aren’t norms for others?
Interpretive Questions
  • Given how challenging culture shock was for the speaker, is it a good thing for himself that he came to such a different place?  Why or why not?
  • Is it a good thing for others at Valparaiso University that he came?  Why or why not?
  • What do we gain when we leave behind what’s familiar?
Implication Questions
  • Which norms come out of your community or hometown?  How do you feel when other people question them?
  • If the speaker were your roommate, what’s one thing you could do to ease the culture shock?

Let us know how the conversation or self-reflection went. Email us or discuss the experience in our comment box.

Transcript for Culture Shock

I came here by chance actually. I was supposed to be going to, um, I had gotten into Northwestern, I was thinking about going there, but money had changed a lot of things. I was also supposed to go to University of Wisconsin on a full scholarship for my poetry and music, but my dad had gotten a little ill so I wanted to stay closer to him.  So I chose this school… I chose Valpo without even coming to visit.

The first time I saw it was the day I moved in. I came here for like five minutes at an orientation, but I had to leave really quick for a show, so like the first time I experienced Valpo was the first day I moved in. And I’ll tell you it was a culture shock to see different… to see all of this. I never grew up in a city like this. And I never been in, you know, in a place that’s, you know, it’s not like faces, you know, you don’t have like faces around you. I grew up in a predominantly African American environment and predominantly Hispanic environment. So not having like-faces or not having people you can relate to was very difficult.  And then just the things you think you consider norms you realize aren’t norms for other people… and that was a big thing for me as well.

I understand what it means to be poor, and I understand what it means to struggle, and I understand what it means to like, you know, five dollars is all you have for two weeks. I understand like those things. This one girl was in Soc[iology] 100 class, Soc 101 class, and she said, “Poor people are just lazy in my eyes. Because you know, they don’t… they’re just not working hard enough. There’s opportunities around.” And it really… that opened my eyes like wow, I’m in the wrong friggin’ place because you know, and I’ve got a long way to go for the people around me because they don’t understand anything, so when I’m sitting here chatting… And it made me not trust a lot of people. So I’m sitting here chatting with you, and you probably think, you know, don’t understand why I’m poor, don’t understand why I don’t have many things. Or understand my culture. And that was a key thing.

And another thing was getting pulled over by the police, and you know, telling me how nice of a car I had. The reason why I bought such a nice car even, I had worked really hard throughout high school, and I got a car because I needed something to get around. Public transportation isn’t reliable. But then there’s certain things like that you take pride of, like, from a Hispanics’ point of view, you take pride in the vehicle you drive, or the African American point of view, you take pride in the clothes that you wear. So when people question, you know, the priorities people have and why you buy certain things, that’s something that people didn’t understand. So when the cop pulled me over he was like why do you have such a nice car, blah blah blah, if you’re from here, I’m like you know, maybe you don’t understand, you know, this part of how I value, like, success and how I value different things.

Culture Shock, Extended Version

Transcript for Culture Shock, Extended Version

I came here by chance actually. I was supposed to be going to, um, I had gotten into Northwestern, I was thinking about going there, but money had changed a lot of things. I was also supposed to go to University of Wisconsin on a full scholarship for my poetry and music, but my dad had gotten a little ill so I wanted to stay closer to him. So I chose this school… I chose Valpo without even coming to visit.

I came here for like five minutes at an orientation, but I had to leave really quick for a show, so like the first time I experienced Valpo was the first day I moved in. And I’ll tell you it was a culture shock to see different… to see all of this. I never grew up in a city like this. And I never been in, you know, in a place that’s, you know, it’s not like faces, you know, you don’t have like faces around you. I grew up in a predominantly African American environment and predominantly Hispanic environment. So not having like-faces or not having people you can relate to was very difficult. And then just the things you think you consider norms you realize aren’t norms for other people.

I understand what it means to be poor, and I understand what it means to struggle, and I understand what it means to like, you know, five dollars is all you have for two weeks. I understand like those things. This one girl was in Soc 100 class, Soc 101 class, and she said, “Poor people are just lazy in my eyes. Because you know, they don’t… they’re just not working hard enough. There’s opportunities around.” That opened my eyes like wow, I’m in the wrong friggin’ place because you know, and I’ve got a long way to go for the people around me because they don’t understand anything, so when I’m sitting here chatting… And it made me not trust a lot of people. So I’m sitting here chatting with you, and you probably think, you know, don’t understand why I’m poor, don’t understand why I don’t have many things. Or understand my culture.

And another thing was getting pulled over by the police, and you know, telling me how nice of a car I had. The reason why I bought such a nice car even, I had worked really hard throughout high school, and I got a car because I needed something to get around. Public transportation isn’t reliable. But then there’s certain things like that you take pride of, like, from a Hispanics’ point of view, you take pride in the vehicle you drive, or the African American point of view, you take pride in the clothes that you wear. So when people question, you know, the priorities people have and why you buy certain things, that’s something that people didn’t understand. So when the cop pulled me over he was like why do you have such a nice car, blah blah blah, if you’re from here, I’m like you know, maybe you don’t understand, you know, this part of how I value, like, success and how I value different things.

Freshman year, I got pulled over probably over twenty times my freshman year. I never got a ticket for anything. I just kept getting pulled over within the city of Valparaiso and also on campus as well, so, that was a different experience. It stopped happening after I started working in the marketing department, and I started, you know, shaking people’s hands, and some people started to get to know me, and know who I was, and know my background, know my success, and you know, my performance things, and found out that I wasn’t just, you know, I guess their perception of what a mixed kid from the South Side of Chicago is. After that, then people started being really nice to me. I can go shake the police chief’s hand here, and they know me, and you know, anything I need, I can call them right away, and they’ll help me out. But that’s when it started to happen, is when I started to show ways, I guess, that I can help them, and show ways that I’m not, you know—I don’t know—whatever they want to perceive me as.

  • Betsy Patricia Benitez Luzuria

    After looking at this video, we would like to ask some questions:
    1.- What was the first discrimination experience the speaker had in his new environment?
    2.’- What did he feel when the policeman stopped him while he was driving his car?
    3.- How do people discriminate against minorities in your country?

    • aschuet1

      Thanks so much for sharing your questions on the site. Hope they led to some good discussion. We’d love to hear more.

      Allison

  • Euler Palma

    here are some questions for this video:

    1. Describe the way the speaker think about culture shock.

    2. Why do people think that poor people are lazy?

    3. What does the speaker feel discriminated?

    • aschuet1

      Thanks, Euler. Hope these questions led to some good discussion. We’d love to hear more.

      Allison

  • Joc

    We do have some questions about this video:
    1. Why did he choose Valpo?
    2. How did he feel when his classmate said “poor people are lazy’?
    3. How much do you (the reader, watcher) spend in a day?

    • aschuet1

      Thanks, Joc. Hope these questions led to some good discussion. We’d love to hear more.

      Allison