Culture Shock is a real type of anxiety that foreigners experience when they choose to spend an extended period of time abroad. Below is a fictional account of some of the different culture stresses and shock that interns can expect to experience here in Uganda:
You read every millimeter of this website along with the Ugandan culture book, you have an encyclopedic knowledge of Museveni’s presidency, you volunteered for several invisible children screenings at your university, you even sought out 13 Ugandans in your town and had dinner with them.
You were ready for Uganda. Or so you thought.
In the dead of night your flight is about to land and you look out the window to see Africa up close for the first time, and you are surprised to see nothing at all. Blackness, along with about two or three cars. Then you land and look out the window and see that the strobe light on the tip of your plane’s wing has attracted a swarm of large insects equal in number to the population of Wyoming.
As you climb into the car your senses are taking in all of the different noises, smells and sounds. A chicken walks past your vehicle and the mixture of animals and people surprises you since chickens are normally something you only see on a plate. Aside from the awkwardness of driving on the left side of the road, the driver seems to be in a rush. He is constantly honking at people while passing and swerving into oncoming traffic. At the same time there are Boda Boda’s (motorcycles) everywhere, who appear to be allowed to drive anywhere there is space for them to fit. One of them was even carrying 13 foam mattresses (yes, you counted). Another had a row of chickens tied to the handle bars.
After you shower at 7 degrees Celsius (that’s Ugandan for very very cold) you lie down in bed at last. Before you are what you consider rested, the roosters start crowing, and continue to for the remaining four hours of night.
You log on to the internet at the office and learn that slow internet connection refers to something quite different back home. After 3 minutes of loading, you finally get to the page that allows you to type your message. You type out an email explaining that you are safely in Uganda and request the item you need. You press send, but the next page that pops up is, alas, the error page. You click back and then type the entire thing out again and press send only to discover you have timed out.
You have now experienced culture shock. Your preparations are futile. You will experience this while you are in Uganda. The question now is, how will you react?