Zeroing Out: The Stories of the Emigrants to the US
The term ‘cultural shock’ was introduced in the 1950s by Calervo Oberg, a Canadian anthropologist. This is a phenomenon that takes place when you move to a different country or abruptly change your environment or way of life.
Oberg says that this shock means “the anxiety that results from losing all our familiar signs and symbols of social intercourse.” It is often complicated by information overload, language barrier, boredom, and homesickness.
Photographer from Nizhny Novgorod, before that — a journalist. Studied at DocDocDoc school and took Artem Chernov’s course. Published her work in The Washington Post, Rossiyskaya Gazeta, Novaya Gazeta, Russian Reporter, and RBK.
— I moved to the US three years ago. After half a year I decided to register on Viber, and almost immediately I received a message: “Why are you here? You died…” It was a man named George — it turned out he had recently buried his aunt, and her phone number was now mine. This message was partially true for me as well: moving to a different country is somewhat like death.
In Illinois where I lived there are thunderstorms between February and November and winds throughout the year — exactly as the articles that I had read before moving promised. None of them said, however, how difficult it might be without knowledge of English (I studied German at school and at the university), without family, friends, or a job. I knew that the States weren’t forever: my husband’s project would last a couple of years, and then we’d go back. However, I still lost myself for several months.
I didn’t know back then that this was cultural shock. That the first thing that happens when it hits is the ‘honeymoon’, then the frustration, and then the adjustment — and only after that you can adapt to the new environment. My project, Zeroing Out, is an attempt at understanding how to go through this process as least painful as possible. These are the stories of people who moved to America from different parts of the planet.
Moving to a different country is somewhat like death.