New Rochelle, NY, my hometown, is known for its diversity. Because of this diversity, I had been introduced to many different socioeconomic backgrounds. I felt as though that made me someone who was comfortable with all cultures and backgrounds. When I came to Bucknell, I realized that I had only been introduced to so many backgrounds. When I arrived at my Residence Hall, I saw names that I had never seen before. There were so many international students, which was something that I was familiar with, but had never been living with international students before. Everyone here has such different expectations of college and comes from such different places that there are bound to be culture barriers.
The first noticeable barrier that I ran into was the language barrier. I heard many other students speaking in different languages to each other. This is something that I did expect when I came here, so I wasn’t too surprised. Seeing someone speaking another language and them seeing them switch to English was very impressive to me. The issue of “slang” quickly became apparent as well. I had never thought about my use of the words “o.d.” or “mad”. I had been saying those words since I could remember and people would give me a funny look when I said them. I realize, however, that this is nothing compared to the amount of culture shock some people must be going through. I think that I am currently in the Honeymoon stage. Although I have gotten more familiar with the environment and do not see everything in the same light as I did in my first couple days, by looking at the culture shock stages it makes the most sense that I would be in this stage.
I think that the one time that I went through a “culture shock” similar to this was when Demetrious lived with us. My eldest brother, Jack, had a friend named Demetrious from Bridgeport, CT, which is a very poor and crime ridden area about an hour and a half from us. Due to my brother and Demetrious being on the same basketball team, Demetrious would sleep at our house on Fridays when there was a tournament on Saturdays. It was a very normal thing for our family, but it got interesting when the basketball season ended. Demetrious didn’t leave. He ended up living with our family for about 4 years. When he was living with us, I was introduced to a world that I had seen from the outside in. Demetrious’ parents did not care about him the way I was used to. He grew up having to worry about getting hurt by gang violence. He grew up having to worry about his next meal. Despite him coming from such a rough background, he was one of the most positive, outgoing, and energetic people I have encountered. He was able to teach me about things that I normally wouldn’t have learned about. The one thing that he really showed me was the inequality in America. He was from a city where everyone was poor. Poorness was all he knew. This is something that I struggled with for a while. I would consider my family middle class and I realized how much of a blessing that was when I was able to live the life that I had because not everybody grows up the same way.