A Big City and Culture Shock-First Impressions

Alexandra Card

My arrival to New Delhi involved immediate culture shock and a sense of being overwhelmed.  The process of getting a SIM Card, withdrawing money from the ATM, finding a phone to call the person I was staying with, and getting a cab to the apartment I was living in required me to force myself to take action and put myself in a proactive position.  The drive through New Delhi was also a bit of a shock as the driver of the taxi I was in swerved and honked through the dense traffic.  At first I was sure that we would get into some sort of accident, but it ultimately became clear that the driver of my car and those around him were very much in control and aware of what was going on.


In planning my work schedule, I gave myself about 5 days to adjust to Delhi before my first day of work.  I was very glad for this as I spent the first two days in Delhi sleeping and adjusting to the time change.  It took me three days to finally get out of the apartment I was living in and go explore the neighborhood I was living in.  The process of adjusting to a new city and country was relatively difficult for me at first.  I was confused by how the streets were lajd out and how to navigate through traffic.  I was quick to label the discomfort I felt as “culture shock”, but after some time, I realized that a lot of it simply came from the fact that I had never lived in a big city before.  Understanding this helped me deal with that discomfort and find ways to alleviate it.  One way I did this was by learning how to use the Delhi Metro.  By learning where the station was and the places it could take me, the city felt less overwhelming and more reachable to me.


During the weekend before I started week, I went out to a couple of sights in Delhi with another University of Michigan Student who was also staying in Delhi for part of the summer. Being that she had lived in Delhi the previous summer, she provided as a helpful resource for adjusting to the new culture and learning more about the city.  The temple and garden we visited were both extremely beautiful in very different ways.  These experiences made me very excited to explore more of Delhi and more of India as well.