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MEET THE CULTURE SHOCK: NON-JAVANESE STUDENTS' REFLECTIONS ON THEIR NEW WAY OF LIFE

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MEET THE CULTURE SHOCK: NON-JAVANESE STUDENTS' REFLECTIONS ON THEIR NEW WAY OF LIFE
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  1 MEET THE CULTURE SHOCK: NON-JAVANESE STUDENTS ’  REFLECTIONS ON THEIR NEW WAY OF LIFE Nara Sari 130221810444/Off. A Universitas Negeri Malang (State University of Malang) To encounter a new place with largely distinctive culture, language, life style, habit, and even weather might expose someone to a state at which she/he feels depressed and miserable. At this state, she/he may be experiencing the so called culture shock. Some definitions on culture shock always lead to the understanding that this shock almost always happen to the person who is transplanted abroad, travels to a foreign country or moves to another country which has totally different customs, traditions, behavior, and way of thinking from his/her own country (Oberg, 1997; Xia, 2009; Rempel, 2011). Yet, to the extent of my observation on five non-Javanese students, including me who are learning at a university in Java, I have had the impression that the scope of the culture shock strike is getting smaller. Culture shock is actually experienced not only by the  people who are relocated abroad or move out of their country, but also by the  people who are relocated out of their areas, provinces and/or states even though they are still living in the same country. Thus, a critical question to raise is what probably makes the phenomenon occur and if it exists in this context how it might be set. One possible answer is that Indonesia is a country of which provinces or areas equipped with diverse cultures, languages, life styles, habits, and weather. Hence, the vast variation of the cultures might provoke the presence of the culture shock. Another possible interpretation is that the non-Javanese students have problems with themselves in making a good interaction to the new environment. As simply stated by Kealey in Zapf (1991), the physical and/or emotional upset is not actually affected by the new culture or environment itself; yet, he believes that the distress has emerged  2 once the individual cannot make a good adjustment or a good contact with the new life settings. In relation to the situation outlined above, the present chapter evaluates my own experience to cope with the culture shock as a non-Javanese student who has  been resettling in a new city out of my native province but still in the same country. Some stories from my three non-Javanese friends are also included. Three students including me are new students of the English Language Teaching Program at the Graduate School of State University of Malang (UM) while the other one is an undergraduate program student majoring in Bahasa dan Sastra Indonesia at UM registered in July 2013. I would additionally address some issues as proofs that the term culture shock can be appropriately used in this paper and I would refer to some friends comments on how the culture shock affects their learning process (since they are all students) and what they have done to cope with the tension of the distress. IT MUST BE CULTURE SHOCK Oberg (1960) straightforwardly categorizes culture shock as a disease. Many people suffer from it. Some may put mind at ease with it. Some others are quite fine to continue living in an endless state of the culture shock. Many never find their best way to survive with this state and finally give up and feel depressed. Irwin (2007) underlines a point that even though the state of the depression may r  emain in someone’s life for a relatively long period of time , it is not a severe illness. People who suffer from this, thus, can recover soon if they know how to deal with it. There are some ways to conquer the culture shock; one of which is to recognize the symptoms. There are several thorough symptoms shown by the sufferer including unnecessary washing of hands, excessive distress over drinking water and dishes availability, excessive anxiety to have physical contact with the natives, a feeling of helplessness and a desire to depend on long-term residents who come from the same area or country, great fear of being cheated and injured, a feeling of uneasy towards minor pains and scratches of the skin, and finally he adds that there is a great desire to be back home soon, to do  3 the activities that are used to be done, to visit relatives and to talk to people who can really keep the conversation going meaningfully. I would not exaggerate the reality for those symptoms are comparable with what I have been experiencing lately. From the very first time I have arrived in Malang; although I have never washed my hands frequently, I do pay much more my attention to the supply of food, drinking water and even water for bathing. It is true that I do have great desire to be back home soon and I always feel like I have  been always missing my family and relatives. So do my non-Javanese friends. Some of the instances of their comments on cultural symptoms they have experienced include such samples as follows: (1)   Saya kangen dengan suasana rumah, makanan ibu, cengkrama keluarga . . . [I miss home, my mother’s cooking, and the family gathering]. (2)   This is the first time I am far away from my family. Of course, it would not be easy for me. I should be able to adjust myself with new environment, colleagues, even the language since I am not a Javanese. Besides, I have to be independent. (3)   Bagaimana mungkin aku ikut berbicara dan tertawa sedangkan aku tidak mengert apa yang mereka bicarakan . . . [I cannot be involved in a conversation since I do not understand what the people are talking about]. Related to the comments above, what my friends and I have been through is actually what Xia (2009) means as the second stage of culture shock which may start with negative experiences and escalating problems. The last two comments have clearly shown that even the students are still in Indonesia, they find some confusion in understanding language. As is stated in the second comment,  I am not a Javanese  left the impression that the student feels that the language is one of the barriers to hers attempting to adapt to the new environment. As the result, the uneasiness leads her to this stage of culture shock at which she has to handle the negative experiences and problems (As is shown by her comment “. . . it would not be easy for me. . .” ).  4 This arduous stage usually emerges a few weeks after the first “honeymoon” stage has existed. The following instances will show how one of my non-Javanese friends expressed her feelings at the “honeymoon” stage:  (1)   Hati ini gembira ketika diizinkan untuk melanjutkan kuliah di kota Malang ini . . . [I was so happy because my parents gave me  permission to go to a university in Malang]. (2)   Pertama kali menginjakkan kaki di sini, sesaat mataku tercuci dengan keadaan kota yang kuidam-idamkan . . . [At first, I felt so excited and was so interested in this city environment]. This “honeymoon” stage is pretty similar to the honeymoon which literally means the stage at which two newly-married couple spend days for beautiful togetherness. For the culture shock sufferer, the first days at a new place, immediately away from family, are so beautiful because they have already been served something new. The first example of the students’ comments has revealed that the student was so excited to go to a university in Malang, away from her  parents. Furthermore, the word tercuci  in Bahasa Indonesia in the second comment has played an important role to prove that she felt very enthusiastic to move to the city. Following the previous two stages is the adjustment stage which is followed by the abilities to learn how to adapt into the new environment. Then, the last stage that will appear is the mastery stage. At this stage, people will successfully solve problems and be completely blended in the new culture. Unfortunately, there are no instances collected since these last two stages are  believed to come after one and a half years after the students’ arrival, while the students involved in this study have not spent more than three months on living their new lives in the city. Therefore, there is no necessary involving the discussion on the adjustment and mastery stage of the culture shock in this paper. In short, relevant to the instances performed previously, I would assume that my friends and I have been being at a state called culture shock even though we are not transplanted abroad and/or moving out of our country Indonesia. We have just been relocated into a city located in a different province and a different  5 island. In other words, I would say that the term culture shock can be used widely regardless of two different countries involved in the definition. I would also  believe that the scope of culture shock will be getting smaller and smaller if Indonesians still hold onto the belief that their own culture is unique and differ one another. HOW THE CULTURE SHOCK WORKS AND HOW WE WORK ON IT  Alteration, adjustment, and transformation may result in stress (Xia, 2009). It seemed to happen to me at the first time I entered the classroom meeting with many different students from different universities with different level of ability and different learning styles. I remembered at the very first place that I have ever thought that I was not capable enough to participate in the classroom learning activities. In my very first week being together with mostly Javanese students and a very small number of non-Javanese students, I realized that I was getting stressful with what I bore in my mind. It seemed that there was a burden in my head that could probably explode at a perfect time. Luckily, my second stage of this exposed culture shock passed flawlessly since I have got my way to cope with the stress. I did observe the classroom environment before I was brave enough to speak up my ideas in front of my friends. Weeks after, I finally came to the conclusion that the culture shock can be one of the most influential factors affecting my learning process. This assumption is in line with an argument by Hess (1994) in Xia (2009) which underlines that the stress produced by the (cultural factor) upset can lead someone to the psychological confusion and emotional discomfort. Some negative impacts of the culture shock on the learning process are also underlined by my non-Javanese friends as follows: (1)    Namun, seiring berjalannya waktu semangat (belajar) itu kadangkala hilang ketika aku bosan memikirkan tugas . . .dan membutuhkan tempat (keluarga) untuk berbagi. . . [As the time goes by, my learning spirit has faded away. I cannot stand being far away from my family since I can barely tell them how I feel]. (2)   At first, I was rather stressful with my new life, particularly in dealing with the teaching and learning process. Hence, at the beginning I could
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