Thursday, August 19, 2010

Culture Shock

Since I just wrote about reverse culture shock, I thought I would share what culture shock looks like. When I write my book on overseas living, I have the picture that will be on the back as my author photo.

Would you like to hear the story of that picture? It truly was a culture shock moment.

I was a newlywed and newly pregnant. I needed to get my resident visa and that is not a fun or easy process. I think they do that on purpose for spouses. First of all I needed a medical exam, which was not just go to one doctor and be done. That meant going to room after room and asking if they would sign my paper and check one specific thing. It was the big hospital with lots of people. It was not fun. I did get out of the chest x-ray because I was pregnant. We made it through that and the next thing was to go to immigration or something like that to get the resident visa. I just remember sitting there and waiting. Then we needed pictures of me. DH gave me money and I went to the photo booth down in the lobby. I took my pictures and I then thought I was pushing the button to select the photos but instead it was the button to print the photos. My Chinese reading wasn't that good. I was upset and showed them to DH. He was kind and gave me money to go and do it again. I went down and in the same booth and tried again but the machine had broken between the time I took my photos a few minutes earlier and then. I kept trying and then someone banged on the curtain and I about jumped out of my skin. I decided that was it. That picture wasn't that bad and it would just go in my file. No one would really see it.

Guess what that picture was scanned and included in my passport on the visa page so every time I had to show my visa you go to see the culture shock photo.

I did get DH back for that medical exam. The next year I was the one who held our resident visa. The two years that I "worked" as an English editor for a Chinese Bridal Magazine. As the employee, I didn't have to get a medical exam but the spouse did.

So if you are ever asked what culture shock looks like, you can just show them this picture. Since it was in my passport for all the immigration officers to see it, why not share it here.


  1. Funny! Sometimes my eyes get a big buggy when I pose for a photo. I call it my "deer in the headlights" look. I don't realize when I'm doing it. I'm so thankful for digital photos so that I can get a second chance.

  2. That picture is incredible! :-) You really do look SHOCKED.



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