Culture Shock

How to make your hosts comfortable with you

So you’re going on a trip outside of the country. The food will be different, the language will be different, the weather will be different, and right now all you can think about is how you are going to deal with culture shock.

The Shocked Becoming the Shocker
What about the home you are going to stay in? They’ve prepared a bed for you with clean sheets and tried to bring in foods that they hope will fit your American pallet. They are going to be faced with a culture shock, too.

A Personal Experience
When I was in China, the college students I was helping with conversational English and myself entered what seemed to be a fast food restaurant. My hosts ordered steamed dumplings and soup. They asked if I needed to use the restroom. I did need to go, but I was also hungry, so I said I could wait. The shock I saw in their eyes startled me. They wanted me to go and they wanted me to go immediately. I didn’t understand at first, but then I realized they were concerned about my comfort. They wanted me to be as comfortable as possible. I wanted the same for them, and so I went to the bathroom.

What You Can Do
You might put that same shock on the faces of those around you. You might say something or do something that is completely opposite of what they might expect from you.

Try your best to keep the comfort level stable. Allow them to wait on you if waiting on you makes them the most comfortable. For example, my Indian friend feels closest to me when she is doing things for me, from making me a cup of tea to heating up some of her mother’s food. In my home, on the other hand, comfort occurs when those around me feel and show the manifestation of “my home is your home.” I feel best when my friends and family can come into my kitchen and feel that they can open the refrigerator and get a soda or a beer.

When it comes to becoming comfortable in your host home, one of the easiest things you can do is make your host comfortable with you. Let them shower you with kindness, but do it with gratitude. Don’t take advantage, but don’t let your “I can get it myself” tendencies to get in the way of building friendships that will last!