Culture Shock in the Same Country?

Posted on Wednesday, Apr 01, 2020

Like most students, who grow up in the suburbs and go to college away from the city, I had the dream of living in the city. I dreamt of living in cities like New York or Los Angeles and envisioned my life to be similar to those seen in movies and on YouTube. Living amid high-rises, unique coffee shops, and great restaurants feels like the epitome of success.

Today, those dreams and scenes still exist and are partly true but beware of reality. I arrived wide-eyed and excited but realistically, be prepared for imperfection.

Stepping out of the airport, I was hit with the bitter cold. Getting to the apartment, I noticed how there wasn’t a grocery store within walking distance, and without a car, I was at the mercy of the Metro. The Metro alone was a culture shock; I was both amazed by it, but also limited by my wallet and where it could take me.

The biggest shock I had was the prevalence of smoking and the lack of warmth from strangers. Growing up from the south, smiling is a habit but don’t expect one back here; and be prepared to get used to the smell of smoke.

Surprisingly, the best culture shock I experienced was the easy access to education. The ability to spend hours at museums to enrich my mind revived my interest in many different subjects. It’s something to not take for granted and to take advantage of.

As a student at Texas A&M University, I am committed to new experiences and making the most of them. Experiencing Washington D.C. is a culture shock, but  seize onto the discomfort and enjoy all that this city offers.

Minaal Farrukh
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
Washington, D.C. | spring 2020