Experiencing the opposite of culture shock
It wasn’t until a friend of mine asked “What has shocked you the most about Argentina?” that I realized it wasn’t the difference in customs or food or language that had differed from my expectations; rather, it was the amount of similarities.
Prior to my trip, everyone I talked to seemed to emphasize the differences between Here and There. “They don’t live like we do” said a family friend; “Will you have running water?” asked my dad. Upon arriving in Rosario, I expected culture shock to the highest degree.
Instead, however, the airport staff greeted me in English. On the bus ride here, I looked out the window to see miles of trees and cars passing by, as if I were just in another part of my home state of Oregon. Walking around, I’ve been surrounded by shopping malls, American music and fast food chains. During my first few days in Rosario, I have seen just how globalized the world is becoming.
Now Argentina has always had a European influence, and I’m sure not all of Latin America is this way, but are the differences between any two societies in the world really as stark as we make them out to be? On a more fundamental level than infrastructure or cuisine, do we not all have the same basic wants and needs– for our children to be safe and happy; to be able to develop our skills and pursue our interests? I’m starting to realize that maybe we focus too much on divisions and not enough on our shared experience as humans. We may have different rituals, beliefs and ways of communicating, but in the end we are all part of the same group.