“It’s not like faces, you know, you don’t have like faces around you.”
Hold a Conversation
In addition to the questions below, please see How to use the questions for reflection.
- 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?
- 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?
- 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.