Everyone finds comfort in their own home, and that home can be anywhere, or anything. Pakistani students are usually a little nervous to go abroad to study mainly because of the language barriers, different culture, homesickness etc, something we call ‘culture shock’. In my case, I had ‘reverse culture shock’.
Reverse culture shock is having lived abroad and then returning to your home country and experiencing that change in society. I experienced this first hand when I first came back to Pakistan to study for O levels.
Brought up and raised in Canada, I had no vivid memory whatsoever of my home country, so I was naturally reluctant and scared to start O’levels in a school in Pakistan. Firstly, I was not very a little weirded out by the fact that there were uniforms that had to be worn, makeup or nail polish wasn’t allowed, and all your hair ties had to be black. It was a bit odd, but that was the easy part.
The teachers at my school weren’t very welcoming, they were quiet harsh.
One of them insulted me in front of the whole class for not knowing what the syllabus was in my first week of school, another taunted me for wearing up hairstyles with braids and twists in them. I wasn’t used to this kind of treatment by teachers, because in Canada, they weren’t allowed at all to call out someone like that. Looking back now, I realize that they didn’t mean to single me out, that that’s how those teachers were, but at that time, naturally I got hurt and didn’t feel welcome, all I wanted to was go back.
I began to hate going to school. I used to beg my mother everyday to change my school hoping it would make the culture shock a bit less.
However my mother consoled me, she said everything takes time to get used to, and she turned out to be right. Almost everyone in my class thought that I thought I was really cool and superior, when in reality, I was very uncomfortable and just wanted to make friends. It took some time, but I did find the right people that really stuck by me. Even after seven years, I can still count on them.
Every society is different, every school system is different, and what I believe got me through that very hard first year was my friends, and my family. Pakistan is a beautiful country with beautiful people, it took time but I adjusted and made this life my new normal.
Have you every experienced culture shock? Let us know all about it in the comments below!
Cover Photo Courtesy: Dawn