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Culture shock

As soon as I walked through the gates of my homestay family’s house, I quickly felt the culture shock. This new way of living presented itself in many forms. Transitioning from never owning a pet to living with a dog, cats, multiple chickens, and a cow took me by surprise. Next, a hole had to serve as my bathroom for three days. I washed dishes by hand in the backyard after every meal from a spigot. I even tried to clean my clothes using only a large bowl, a hose, and powder. However much I immensely struggled at these things, one thing kept me going: laughing with my host mom. As soon as I sat on the porch for the first time, she brought out shelled walnuts and an ax. After I used the wrong end to open the walnut, she immediately showed me the correct method, and we giggled together. During my first meal with her, I incorrectly held my bowl. After she demonstrated the proper way, we laughed. Another time, I offered to feed the chickens. We both soon laughed at my lack of knowledge on how to do so. Once, a chicken just stood on the threshold of the kitchen for three minutes while we had another laugh as a chase around the garden pursued. Although the prevalence of flies in the village unimaginably bothered me, it was truly worth it when my mom and I could not stop laughing at our cat’s unsuccessful attempts to catch some flies. In the middle of collecting grass for the cow, a pesky bee did not fail to bother me. As a reflex, I ducked, only to laugh once again with the mom at my fear of that persistent bee. Every night, my host parents and I watched tv strictly in chinese together. The first night, my mom and I laughed extremely hard at a poorly edited movie and later at completely serious shows. My favorite memory, though, has to be when I carried a basket of grass up the village. After the initial awkward silence, my host mom began to whistle. Once I mimicked her tunes, we shared our best laugh. Previous to my stay, I had no idea the power laughter possesses. Now, however, I am forever grateful for how it allowed me to easily and smoothly connect with my host mom and family.