A person could argue that I have been in a constant state of Culture Shock for the majority of the time I have been alive. I grew up in two different worlds (Minneapolis and White Earth Reservation), and maybe by happenstance or the cosmos -or whatever, I have been lucky to experience a variety of cultures due to friendships made over the years. As far as getting to other countries, I have been to Canada once for a few hours, and Mexico a few times, but nothing like spending three weeks on a whole other continent.
When I told people about this trip I was going on, they would ask me how I was feeling, excited? Nervous? Happy?...and so on, the answer was always nervous. Having minimal Spanish speaking abilities and missing the first week of my last semester were the top two things I was sweating over. Which was stupid, since I had the time of my life, three weeks of trucking around this little beautiful country.
Having a little time to process, I have found out that the biggest culture shock has not been in the country itself with all new geology and fauna, or the people of Quito and outlying communities, but with the group I was with, a pleasant mix of twenty-something University of Minnesota students, ranging majors, and ranging birthplaces of the Midwest. I picked up on things here and there, little comments that made my brain stop in whatever thought process it was on, to process these little strangenesses. It was most prominent in the talking circles held every few days, where we opened up about things that we experienced that day.
I found myself surprised. Why didn't I factor in how my fellow adventures' worldviews would impact my trip? Why didn't I factor that into my nervousness? Being around a group of U of M students, away from my Tribal College classmates, and away from my little niche in Minneapolis was the biggest culture shock I experienced. Ideas and mannerisms that I grew up with and have taken for granted, were brand new to my brand new classmates. Philosophies and religious outlooks that I have debated over with friends and family members now held no credibility. Don't get the wrong impression here, my group was wonderful, bright, and ambitious. I have been taught that every person I meet in my life will know something I do not, and that every person is on his or her own journey. No matter where intersections happen, or how and when I meet new people, I should not judge them on how little or how much they know at that particular time. If it is only this one thing that I take away from my three-week course, I'm glad it is the knowledge that I can hold my tongue, and give people to time to grow on their own.