Culture Shock by Thomas S. Buchanan

Culture Shock

I am coming soon; hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown. He who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God; never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
—Revelation 3:11–13

My family and I recently had an opportunity to spend a few days in Bangkok. One of the perks of being a professor is that occasionally you get to go on sabbatical, so the Buchanans headed for the farthest place from work: Australia. But Bangkok was a stop along the way, so we decided to venture out beyond the airport and go exploring. Finding a hotel in the center of Bangkok’s Chinatown district gave us a rapid immersion in Asian culture, something for which none of us were prepared.

This was my first time in a city in southeast Asia, and the sights, smells, and crowds were overwhelming. With me being roughly a foot taller than most people and having blond-haired, blue-eyed children, we stood out in the crowd; and the smells of the cooking foods (“was that a raccoon on that barbeque, Daddy?”), the narrowness of the walkways, the busyness of the traffic, and the pushing of the crowds was more than we could handle.

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Thomas S. Buchanan is the George W. Laird Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Biomedical Engineering at the University of Delaware. He has studied at UCSD, Northwestern University, and MIT, and has held visiting professorships at the University of Western Australia and the University of Aix-Marseille. He has served as department chairman, deputy dean, and institute director, president of the American Society of Biomechanics, and editor-in-chief of the Journal of Applied Biomechanics. He is on the Board of Trustees of Saint Katherine College, the editorial board of Touchstone, and the board of The Fellowship of St. James.

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