7 triggers of culture shock
Language - A traveler is accustomed to being understood and understanding. When confronted with new sounds and the inability to communicate, the traveler may become fearful, threatened and frustrated.
Space - In other cultures, personal space is often non-existent. Sharing space is normal, and personal space may not exist on transportation, in cafes or even in restrooms.
Time - Most cultures are not as time conscious as Americans. On time but flexible should be the standard for the volunteer, as well as leaving the day timer at home.
Variety - Many cultures do not have the abundance of consumer goods Americans take for granted. Toothpaste, shampoo, and cereal may not be available in multiple brands or 12 sizes.
Comfort - Millions of people live without air conditioning, microwaves, personal automobiles and a myriad of small appliances. We need to be willing to try new things, and gracefully accept that which is given to us.
Cleanliness - Standards of what is clean and not clean are highly cultural. In some cultures people are appalled that Americans wear their street shoes inside the house - a rude and filthy habit.
Poverty - Although America has poverty, many Americans never see the actual face of poverty. Overseas poverty is often so prevalent that volunteers can become overcome with grief at its sight.