On Sept. 27, Eastern New Mexico University’s Student Affairs Office held an event in the Multicultural Lounge. The event focused on what happens when someone travels to a new land with a new language and new customs.
ENMU students were invited to come and join the conversation and befriend international students. They could share experiences of travels and the differences that can be observed between different cities, states, and countries.
Diana Cordova, director of Multicultural Affairs at ENMU, started the conversation by asking the students where they are from and why they were there. There were students from China, Nepal, South Africa, Nigeria, Mexico, Israel, Nepal, England and areas surrounding ENMU in attendance.
“We all come from different places and backgrounds, what do you think is culture shock?” asked Cordova. Some students answered going to a different city, going from a city to a rural town, hearing different accents, tasting different foods, how people interact, or how they travel. Cordova commented how hard it can be for people just leaving their hometown to an area a few hours away.
“Culture shock is going from a familiar place, to an unfamiliar place,” stated Cordova. “It’s not necessarily boundaries or countries.”
Many students agreed that people smile a lot and are friendly in Portales. One student said, “People here are very different than where I’m from, because they are helpful and seem to genuinely want to help you.” The conversation turned into talking about small town life and how in small towns people wave at others. “When I was driving with my friend who lives in another small town, she waved at everyone she drove by. I asked if she knew them, and she said no. My friend said that that’s just what you do in small towns.”
Cordova opened the floor to questions the students may have had. One student asked, “How do you cope with going somewhere that has completely different languages than what you are used to, and what things have you done to alleviate the stress?”
A student stated that they had to learn that everyone was also new here and were going through the same thing. Another student from Africa answered, “For a long stay you must have goals: this determines if you will stay or not.” He said you must learn how to adapt and look at the positive. A student added that her faith helped her deal with culture shock.
Cordova added another concept, reverse culture shock. “Reverse culture shock is when you go back home after an extended period,” Cordova said. “I felt this when I moved back to Spain. I missed air conditioning, toilet paper, food, and friends.” She then added on ways to deal with this issue.
Cordova ended the event by stating, “The beauty is to get to know each other. Wherever we come from there are good things and flaws that we must accept about one another.”