The Reverse Culture Shock


Before leaving New Zealand, Joel and I sat through a weekly meeting with a couple, who are now our good friends. This couple had spent years as missionaries in Ukraine but God called them out of the country, and they had to move to different places for a while until they are settled in NZ, for now. They told us that reverse culture shock is to be expected.

Well, this evening, I realized that I am probably experiencing the said reverse culture shock. After a long week in the humid weather, aggressive driving, coarse language and visiting with a couple of people from church who are going through hard times, I finally had a longing to go back to the cooler New Zealand and the classroom where I was protected from the chaos of life. I wanted to travel back to our flat in Tauranga and hide under the blanket for a few days without having to meet anyone but Joel. Basically, I wanted to have my own space where I feel settled and safe.

Goughs and Nelsons

Joel and I with Olivia and David- we met together weekly for 2 months. It was a blessing to spend time talking and praying with these two godly people, whose cross-cultural experiences are so much of value for us now! 

With that said, I am not, by any means, implying that Bangkok is a bad place. I was born, raised and have lived in this city my whole life. If anyone is to claim she is a true daughter of this city, I am one. This is my stomping ground, and I love it to bits. However, having been gone for several years, a lot have changed including me. There are things I view or do differently BUT it does not mean that my way is right and the others’ is wrong. My body will eventually get used to the humidity and the heat. I will finally have the guts to drive on the busy road (in fact, I need to be able to do that in two days when Joel arrives!). Hopefully, I will soon be able to give a big smile to those people who are probably having a bad day. And maybe when I am ready, God will use me to help these friends or others who are in desperate need of kindness and tangible support.

But for now, I need to be patient, to allow myself some time to get adjusted to the groove of things, and to give myself grace when I seem to be losing temper over silly matters. It is okay to not feel satisfied with the lifestyle here straight away. It is not that bad to have to eat out almost every day because I am not yet used to the kitchen at home. It is fine to lounge and lay around in bed at home while everyone in the house has gone to work because it is not yet my time. In fact, this is a perfect opportunity to rest and to catch up with my mom. During this transitioning period, it is important for me to remain positive and to establish some kind of routine, even though it is just waking up early to go for a run every morning and going to sleep early at night.  God does not expect me to get it all together in the first instant of arriving. He moved us here for a purpose but there is time for everything.

So here I am, taking time to get used to things, to heal from the stress of the past several months and to pray for direction in the future. One of the Psalms that has spoken to me recently is from Psalm 131:

My heart is not proud, Lord,
    my eyes are not haughty;
I do not concern myself with great matters
    or things too wonderful for me.
But I have calmed and quieted myself,
    I am like a weaned child with its mother;
    like a weaned child I am content.

Israel, put your hope in the Lord
    both now and forevermore.

Joel and I are going to need this sense of calmness when we are reunited because the culture shock will be doubled…and who knows what can happen? I know for sure that we will need to cling on to God our Rock and Anchor more than ever before.


About Mink Gough

"No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined the things that God has prepared for those who love him." 1 Corinthians 2:9 View all posts by Mink Gough

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