28 Jan 2006

Culture Stress Re-Defined

After moving to Poland 3 years ago, i now find myself sitting in a classroom learning Russian, taught by Ukrainians with Poles. They write a word on the white board. It takes me 5 minutes to figure out how to read cyrillic but i can finally pronounce it right. "Co to jest po polsku?" i ask. Whatever they Poles said i didn't understand. "Co to jest po angielsku?" i ask. No one knows. Because there are no other English speakers in the room, only me. They then proceed to describe it in Polish. Ah ha. Strainer (like you use in the kitchen). Useful word.

Clubs are over. We are going to hang out with students. Shelley my American roomate herds the group outside to get going. We wait. And wait. And wait. I go back inside to get, Sasha my Ukrainian teamate, because time doesn't really matter to him. I nicely explain it is cold out. -14C to be exact. Finally we are all outside. We walk. We stop. Nobody knows where to go. Where there are 4 Poles there are 5 opinions. I have realized that adding mine just makes one more and = no quicker decision. I wait. We walk. We enter a cafe. We leave. Not enough room for a group of over 20. We walk. We head for the Old Square Market with many cafes, big enough for about 20 people total- on a Friday night. We get smart. We send one of the Poles to propose McDonalds. Nice. Warm. Big. Cheap. Enough Space. Warm. After over an hour of wandering the streets of Poznan we end up in KFC.

Culture Stress is defined by being stressed out by the culture in which you live because it is different to your home culture. Double Culture Stress is being stressed by the culture in which you live and having guests from a culture which is different than that and being way out numbered and not understanding what anyone is saying. My roomate and i are currently experiencing the second. But tonight the Ukrainians leave and as much as i am glad, i am also sad, because they have become my friends.

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