Different countries or even parts of the same country evolve differently and develop their particular set of values, norms, moral benchmarks, behavioral patterns, and languages. All these elements constitute a specific culture that applies to both the place and the people who live there. That is why it is so common for a traveler or a foreigner to experience a culture shock when he or she encounters a way of living that significantly differs from the one a person is used to.
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One might be surprised or even confused by an array of differences between different regions of the same country, as, for example, it happens when comparing the South and the North of the USA. Serving unsweetened ice tea is very common in the Northern states.
The culture shock a person from a Southern state experiences when coming to the North is related to some distinctive elements of everyday life. Indeed, probably the first obvious difference that surprises a Southerner is the weather, which is very cold in winter. Colder seasons influence the way people dress, commute, and even behave. It is noticeable that apart from the disparity in dominating accents, people in the North tend to speak faster.
Another cultural particularity that catches the eye is how tea is served. If one wants to order iced tea with sugar in the North, it is necessary to state it explicitly; otherwise, one will be served unsweetened cold tea. Besides, in comparison to very polite, hospitable, and friendly people from the South, Northerners seem distant and sometimes even rude. Also, there seem to be fewer churches in the North than in the South, which seems to be a common difference between the two regions. Finally, the lack of conservative manners in the way people communicate and behave with strangers is also a reason for a culture shock.
The identified differences that caused a cultural shock originated due to the distinctive material culture elements and norms that are common for the North and are surprising for a Southerner. There are significant values and ideologies behind the abovementioned norms and material culture. Indeed, the fact that people do not greet each other as often as they do in the South seems to be a norm of the Northern culture. Behind it, there is a value of the personal space of individuals. Such an element of material culture as churches, which are omnipresent in the South and are surprisingly lacking in the North, is based on the ideology of materialism.
In the South, on the contrary, this material culture is validated by the value of faith. Similarly, the fast pace of speech indicates the value of time-effectiveness, which is prevalent in Northern culture. As for the differences in sweetened and unsweetened tea, this cultural norm might be connected to the value of personal choice, which is respected in the North. Thus, all the observed elements that shock a Southerner in the North have an ideological background.
In conclusion, my experience of a culture shock allowed me to observe the real-world particularities in different cultures. It is noteworthy that the environment and customs that one perceives as common might be so difficult to comprehend to others. I have realized that the elements of easily identifiable norms and tendencies of several regions of the same country are imposed by the differences in history, climate, religion, and other factors that form a culture. I was very much surprised to discover the array of disparities in the life of Northern and Southern Americans. Overall, it was a positive experience that not only made me learn new things but also helped me understand and respect diversity.
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