For the last topic in the week of culture shock through images, I thought I’d try to represent the different values placed on time.
In Minnesota if something starts at 12:35, it will start at 12:35. In Djibouti if something starts at 12:35, it will start when people arrive and when someone decides now might be a good time to maybe start thinking about potentially getting things moving eventually. People will get there when they get there.
In Minnesota people are so busy that we schedule ‘meetings’ to hang out with friends, weeks in advance. It took me a while to get used to writing down my friends’ names on the calendar rather than simply dropping by their houses, though I see the many good reasons for it. Also, in Minnesota we feel like we are supposed to be busy all the time.
Busy is almost seen as a virtue and our minds and bodies struggle to keep up. When we go back home, we struggle to slow down.
In Minnesota you can shop ’til you drop or eat out at any time or pump gas around the clock. Twenty-four hours a day.
In Djibouti business shuts down in the middle of the day so people can go home and eat, rest, chew khat. In the summer, sometimes, you can only fill up the car with gas in the ‘cooler’ morning or evening hours when the pumps work.
That said, Minnesota does allow for some wonderfully quiet, peaceful hours fishing, walking, and enjoying people at parks and lakes and barbecues in the summertime.
And people work hard in Djibouti during the hours they do work and when they do have jobs (60% unemployment, I believe).
How do you experience culture shock in relation to time?
Culture Shock in Pictures: Grocery Shopping
Culture Shock in Pictures: Clothing
Culture Shock in Pictures: Scenery
*image via Wikipedia
*image via Flickr
*image via Flickr
Have you ever tried chewing khat? Does it really give a narcotic high? I heard Minnesota had to make it illegal, as it was a problem with the Someli community. Just curious. No judgement here.
I actually haven’t ever tried it but people who have say it is like a SUPER duper strong cup of coffee, can be addictive, can make you feel invincible. There is a great article about it called High in Hell, I think you can find it by googling that title.
Thank you for this post, this is a good one (as usual)!
Once as we were in Morocco, we asked my sister in law to wake us up at 4:30am because we had to take our plane back home. She didn’t. We woke up much later, in a hurry, and almost missed the plane. As we asked why, she answered that we we’re sleeping so deeply, she didn’t want to disturb!
Thanks Sophie! That’s pretty funny about not waking you up.
I took a group to el Salvador this summer. At the beach on our relax day, I was asked upon our arrival when we planned to go back. My response was, when we go back.
Years ago when I was on a short term trip in India our team nicknamed IST “Indian Stretchable Time” 😉
I recall having culture shock in the Dubai airport on my way home from Uganda to Australia. I had only been in Uganda for 2 months but had become accustomed to the relaxed pace. e.g. If people needed to go to the back and it was busy, locals didn’t bat an eyelid at having to wait in a line outside for an undisclosed time. In the Dubai airport when I was lined up outside the waiting lounge I was so shocked at people pushing in the line & their panic about getting the flight. And the in the lounge (that was designated for only our flight) how people pushed and shoved to get onto the plane as if it was going to leave without them! (Even though the plane wouldn’t have left if we were still in the line to the door!!??) And then I got angry because those same people who went through onto the plane out of sequence when seat numbers were called, gave those of us who were called to board, dirty looks and told us to be patient when we wanted to pass them in the aisle to get to our seats up the back. I was surprised at my shock & anger at people’s selfishness & impatience. It occurred to me how we cause undue stress to ourselves (& others) by our hurriedness & impatience.
I’m much more relaxed about time here (Congo), but seem to revert back somewhat while we are in more time conscious places. The change is that I don’t try to pack so much into every day. It’s OK to have unscheduled time. I never really knew that before! And another difference is that I’m close to everything here. If I need to be somewhere, I leave my house a few minutes before. In the US, I have to think about traffic.