On Culture Shock

Well, the first thing I should say on this topic is that I lived out of the country for eight years.

Not that my absence was planned. In 1992, I took advantage of a scholarship that was being offered in honour of the Quincentennial and went to England to pursue graduate studies; in 1995, the scholarship ran out. I moved to Canada to take up a job that would help me finish my dissertation while being fed and kept warm.

Then came the millennium. Not wishing to allow a new century to see me living away from home, I applied for a job at the College of The Bahamas, got it, ended my exile, and came home.

Returning to the Bahamas was something of a culture shock.

Not on the surface: on the face of things, Nassau, at least, was buffed and shining and spiffy. New schools and clinics were everywhere, government buildings looked crisp and clean, Bay Street had reversed itself and was otherwise charming. People’s cars were spanking new, and the extensive construction activities and the general beautification of the environment suggested that there was money in the country.

And then I began to teach. And this culture — my culture — began to shock.


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