How cultural understanding can help in the cultural shock

india 2019

New Delhi, India (Unsplash, 2019)

This article was exclusively written for the The European Sting by Ms. Larissa Carneiro, a medical student of the sixth semester from Brazil. She is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.


The modern notion of culture was first synthesized by Edward Taylor as a complex that includes knowledge, beliefs, art, morals, laws, customs or any other capacity or habits acquired by a person as a member of society.

It is dynamic, unique and particular to each group within a society, according to its beliefs, its creation, growing and perspective of life. The range of heterogeneity that surrounds us is deep, being rooted in our ancestors.

Cultural shock is defined by W.J.Redden as a psychological disorientation caused by misunderstanding or misunderstanding caused by cultural differences. It occurs because of lack of knowledge, experience and / or personal rigidity.

Cultural shocks are observed throughout history, involving religions,  politics, territorial power and other questions, which lead us to reflected how much humanity has suffered and continues to suffer for all of this.  Religious issues continues to plague and impact several countries, the cultural shock that still today is the cause of religious disputes generates destruction and deaths, showing how much it is necessary to clarify and discuss this theme.

Above all, we must respect and recognize the value of each culture, and how we can learn from others.

Some situations in the past, the cultural shock it was considered as something that should be avoided to the maximum, seeking a homogeneity within a society, something that is clearly not possible. As an example, a country like Brazil, where exists an immense diversity  of European and Indigenous cultures, which are subject to the same territory, belong to the same country, are facing the same politics and rules, but are totally different in their way of living. The most interesting and optimistic vision about the cultural shock is the learning and new possibilities we can live from which this encounter of cultures, no longer as something to be avoided, but rather to value the individuality of each one, and try to integrate ourselves in the best way.

Cultural understanding becomes so necessary to realize that the other has a culture totally different from ours, and instead of oppressing and disrespecting those who think differently, it is necessary that we fill those thoughts outraged by empathy, solidarity and respect, because in this way we can build human relationships based on affection and mutual respect for different cultures, making the cultural shock that we experienced at the first moment be replaced by the desire to know and understand more a piece of the whole that integrates the societies. Sharing with others about your culture and learning about others, enriches and awakens the desire for knowledge.

About the author

Larissa Carneiro is a medical student of the sixth semester from Brazil. She is affiliated to IFMSA BRAZIL. She is very interested in the area of ​​research, mainly with a focus on social and health issues, She likest to understand the history and culture of different nations to focus on the real problems that needed to be discussed. She really hopes someday she can do some humanitary job in countries that really need a better medical care.

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