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Did you experience culture shock when you first arrived at Dartmouth? If so, what type of culture shock did you experience (i.e. was it relating to socioeconomic classes, ethnicities, etc) and how did you deal with it?

A: shuyi

Although I'm an international student and certainly dealt with culture shock when I arrived at Dartmouth, which spanned from words I didn't understand all the way to games I had no idea how to play, I was hesitant to answer this question as I believe culture shock can be different for everybody. However, I recently stumbled open my ethnography project that I wrote for my First-Year Writing class. In this ethnography, I interviewed several of my friends about the idea of belonging, and how they belonged at Dartmouth. In these interviews, my friends shared how they fit into Dartmouth and the struggles they faced. By sharing these voices, I hope my campus ethnography can better answer this question!

The first question I asked was: "Do you feel a sense of belonging at Dartmouth?" 

Although all 5 of my interviewees said they felt some sense of belonging at Dartmouth, the international students pointed out that they sometimes felt like they had to be someone else to fit in, as they were unfamiliar with the complexities of social life in the US. I can echo this sentiment - while Dartmouth is certainly a warm and inclusive community, I envitably have to adapt to the new environment around me. However, as my interviewees pointed out, the college does a good job of helping students find spaces in which their comfortable in by hosting cultural events, having LLCs, and overall fostering a very inclusive community. 

Next, I asked my interviewees, "What aspect of belonging do you struggle most with here?". 

Interestingly, I got different answers from everyone I asked. One of my friends from Europe responded that since she was raised in a different culture, it was challenging for her to keep up with TV shows and interests she was unfamiliar with. Another one of my friends mentioned that as a low-income student, he wasn't able to go to options outside of Dartmouth Dining as often as some of his other friends, making him feel left out at times. I think we all experience some form of culture shock, as college is a new environment with a new group of people. Therefore, culture shock can relate to almost anything, including socioeconomic status, cultural background, ethnicity, and more. However, a quote I especially loved was, "At the end of the day, I don't feel like I'm by myself or that I'm struggling by myself." Although I certainly struggled with my transition into college, I never felt alone, and that made all the difference. 

A part of my conclusion for my ethnography project was that because the student body is so diverse at Dartmouth, we often deal with culture shock by searching for belonging in groups that are similar to us. Of course, when we feel as if we don't fit in, it's easy to fall back in groups we are comfortable in. However, I urge you to try and interact with as many as people in college, as I have found that although it can lead to culture shock, it can also lead to individual growth and a broadening of perspectives. It was especially amazing to hear from all of my friends on their interactions with belonging, as I discovered that everyone dealt with their own challenges and struggles. What was even more amazing though, was seeing the general belief that we were all supporting each other, no matter how different we were. 

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