How I survived Culture Shock

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Welcome to World Apart: Life on Three Continents

Angela, Rochelle and I chose to leave the regions in which we grew.

For generations members of our family have moved around. My father’s direct family line-the Goss/Gosse family emigrated from France to England. Family legend says that three brothers moved to Newfoundland, one to Torbay, one to Spaniard’s Bay. I have never heard what happened to the third. My nine times great-grandfather, Jonathan Bradbury, left his wife and four children and ran away to Australia.

My Mom left her home, Baie D’Espoir, and settled in Torbay, where she raised a family.

I left Torbay, a widow with three children, to teach in Rigolet, where I met my second husband, stayed and had a fourth child.

It may seem silly, but Christmas for me meant fruit cake, grapes, Purity syrup, and shortbread cookies. My first Christmas in Rigolet was a surprise. Pies — red berry (partridgeberry) and bake apple (cloudberry) were the preferred treat. The family baker made many, many pies.

BUT no Christmas cake that I was used to.

There was a boiled raisin cake that was a new experience too. Over time, I have adjusted. Pies and boiled cake, very little Christmas cake.

Angela left home and moved to Iqualit with her daughter to work for the Nunavut Government. She met her future husband. Two years later they moved to Chile. She now has three small children.

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Rochelle, my youngest, went to Ireland on a SWASP program for students and met her future husband. They lived in Rigolet for awhile, then moved to Ireland.

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My other daughters, Dawn and Janice, continue to live in Labrador.

My Mom lived in Torbay over 40 years before she and other women who married Torbay men, we sworn in as official citizens.

Although Rigolet and Torbay are in the same province, the cultures are different. Many regions and even communities in Newfoundland and Labrador have distinct cultures.

Centuries of isolation from each other, different denominations, as well as different ethnic origins created communities distinct even from their nearest neighbours.

Communities in NL kept their dialects from their original settlers for centuries. Before the advent of Canadian and American bases, as well as television, it was not uncommon to hear the English of Shakespeare’s time or Gaelic of various Irish counties.

Moving in to another community is not a smooth process. Many times, I was confused by the culture.

Angela and Rochelle have also experienced confusion and even cultural shock in their chosen countries.

Angela continues to work on her Spanish.

Angela and Rochelle and I would not wish to change our minds about moving. Whether the movement is within one’s province, or country, or across continents; moving causes challenges, and misunderstandings.

Moving into a new culture provides many ways of experiencing the world and increases creativity as one learns to add the best of other cultures to one’s own belief system. Be open to alternate views of the world.

Perhaps it is because my family has a history of moving, that adventurous spirit of seeking new experiences that has helped us adjust. It might be my education at Memorial University, especially my studies of cultural diversity in the Faculty of Anthropology. My favourite professor in The department was Dr. Elliot Leyton.

Whatever it was, all three of us have benefited from our experiences.

It would be interesting to hear from readers about changes and culture shock. Please add your comments in the space provided.

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