Culture Shock Level: HIGH!

Over the summer, I started working at a non-profit women’s health center. I work in the family planning clinic with a lot of low-income women with medicaid or no insurance.  My coworkers are from totally different socio-economic backgrounds than me, and it has eye-opening for sure. Like anything, I’ve became used to it and for a while, life went on seemingly normal.

Now I’m back to working three days a week and school two days a week.  Boy-o-boy is adjusting back to a Catholic University more difficult than I expected!! Fist and foremost, they really dislike abortion. In fact, the sidewalk I’m sitting near is covered with chalked pro-life statements. I can make out “we love babies!” from here. I work at a clinic that provides abortions, so that’s a fun conversation topic…

But beyond that, everything seems shocking. The country club/resort style people dress in, the prim and properness, the way people speak and greet each other,  the fact that every activity is a social activity, being around 4,000 students who have so little responsibility but feel like they have the most in the entire world, and the privileged attitude and way they talk about people who are poor.

I’m not so naive as to think that every person’s individuality should be praised and gently stroked at every moment, but I am so sick of hearing rich white students say they want to “work” with the poor or “at-risk youth.” What do they think “working” with them entails? They never have an answer. I think they just want to give them pep-talks so they can pull themselves up and get out of their crummy situation!

The Kroger nearest to our university does’t have a Starbucks in it, so it’s called the “Kro-ghetto.” It frustrates me, because every day at work I call that Kroger pharmacy for our patients who are great people, who care about their family and are PEOPLE. Not these scary, angry, and dangerous people the students at my school seem to think they are.

I could go on and on about how students have such twisted notions of what it means to have medicaid, or food stamps, or live in low-income housing. It bothers me that they talk about them like a single entity with no personality. That they don’t seem to think they make decisions for themselves. When they see low-income housing they feel afraid or think it’s ugly or that the people who live there don’t care or are lazy or whatever one of many notions I’ve heard.

And I mean, can I blame them? Yeah, they shouldn’t have this baseline fear of black people at the grocery store, but I grew up in a well-off family and I didn’t know much about low-income living. I didn’t put faces or personalities with medicaid or food stamps. More so than placing blame, I’m really just reflection on the culture shock from being between such extremes.

As a tangent, one of my first observations coming back to school was that college students should learn to speak more intelligently. I talk with some borderline illiterate people and they do not sound as bad as the college student who’s every other word is one of “stupid, bro, dude, like, oh my god, yeah, douch, or ‘sup.” Earlier today I heard a girl say “What’s the deal with this fucking respect thing?” I just didn’t think it sounded like a thing a well adjusted person would say, but that’s just me.

And for the record, I do realize I’m making vast generalizations about people while I complain about people making vast generalizations. So, a hypocrite I am.

It’s been a rant, thanks for coming along,

Stay adorable, M.C.


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