REFLECTION: On the Other Side of the World

Jet-lagged and a little dehydrated, I stood in front of the intricate, golden Wat Phra Kaew Buddhist temple in Bangkok. A mixture of locals and tourists buzzed around taking pictures and paying homage to the temple and smaller temples surrounding it. One of the only things keeping me awake was the sweat on my forehead reminding me I had been swallowed in the humidity of Thailand.

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As I gazed around, it hit me I was experiencing culture shock. Thailand was my first time on the other side of the world, and beside the fact that we are all human, I was a stranger to the people and environment around me. The feeling of cultural difference was more prominent at the temple visits, which happen to be some of my favorite memories in Thailand

I had been to Brazil and Mexico before, and in both countries Christianity/Catholicism were the dominant religions and ways of spirituality. In both countries, churches and cathedrals were sprung around towns and in many cases they represented a core in people's’ lives. Now I was noticing the same thing applied to the people of Thailand, except with a Buddhism instead of Christianity and temples instead of churches.

Just like being in the temples and learning about a new religion, the surreal and intriguing feeling of newness persisted throughout the trip. From visiting different companies and experiencing the Thailandese business culture to shopping in large markets and negotiating (although I wasn’t successful) for prices, I was submerged in a new culture.

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I was able to navigate through being in a completely new culture by keeping an open-mind, having respect and remaining curious. I wanted to be an observer and experience all of the moments in Thailand without questioning their way of life or way of being. It seems that resistance to a culture different than mine in a country far away from home would not be the appropriate way to make the most of the experience.

Being in Thailand will remain as one of my most impactful experiences at USC. I was able to experience the world with an incredible and dynamic group of fellow Trojans while pushing myself and testing my comfort zones. For the future, I will look for culture shock as opportunities for growth.

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Roberto Gutierrez

 

is a senior Communication major at USC Annenberg. He has worked for companies in the entertainment industry and currently produces content for on-campus organizations. His passions include story-telling, cooking (and eating), and listening to music. Ultimately, he hopes to create content that will inspire people in the near future.