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How the Film “Outsourced” Shows the Effects of Culture Shock on an American in India

Outsourced is a film that helps create an intercultural experience for those who want to approach another culture. As Bisoux (2009) says, the film is a realistic, documentary-like portrayal that provides viewers with a rich window into a global environment such as cross-culture conflict, shock and adjustment. A leading actor- Todd Anderson, is a Western Novelty’s executive vice president of marketing and order fulfillment, has experienced an interesting journey from cultural shock to adjustment when he contacts a new culture of India. The difference between American and Indian cultures makes Todd fall in culture shock. Culture shock is shown clearly in both mental and physical Todd’s symptoms from the first moment he sets his foot in India. There are many definitions of culture shock, such as “sense of confusion, discomfort, disorientation, and uncertainty felt by those exposed to a different cultural environment”-(business dictionary).

Culture shock means the impact you may feel when you enter a culture very different from the one you are accustomed to. Culture shock includes five stages that people may experience. Firstly it is the honeymoon period (excitement and fascination with the new culture). Second is culture shock, where excitement turns into disappointment and more and more differences occurring. The third stage is an initial adjustment, where they learn to accept the culture and to change their negative attitude to a positive one. The fourth is mental isolation, where individuals feel lonely and can’t express themselves as well as they could in their native languages. And the last is the acceptance and adaptation phase, where they will feel at home and become involved in activities and may enjoy some of that countries customs. Because Todd’s job and the entire department are outsourced, he reluctantly travels to India to train his replacement.

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Everything in India is new, stranger and different from things in his country. As soon as he was the first contact with Indian culture, he has met difficulties in language, transportation, food, lifestyle, attitude, etc. He is confused by everything from catching a train to hiring a taxi. He felt be shocked, disoriented and bewildered. All these differences and difficulties make him fatigue, discourage and disorient. Because of his pick-up driver’s mispronunciation, he was missed, and himself has to take a taxi to go to the station. Then, being invited by surrounding cab drivers, he asked a cab driver from the distance to get out of the complex surrounding. However, the man took Todd’s luggage to a dirty old Rickshaw next to the taxi, not the taxi he asked. He was completely shocked because he has never met this situation in his country. When Todd was at the station, he had to run to throw his suitcase on the train and jump up the train.

Todd is offered a seat on the train by a boy, but he has to offer the boy sit on his legs. Besides, Todd suffers from a cramp when he eats gola from a street vendor. The food is not easy for him to eat at the beginning. Even he couldn’t sleep well. All big shock to Todd increases seriously day by day. Todd came to India by compulsory of his boss, so he has no sense of outsourcing, of differences between two different countries: Indian and America. Besides, he doesn’t prepare anything and does not know Indian people, culture, and Indian country, so he didn’t undergo the honeymoon period. Also, it is ethnocentrism that creates difficulties and leads to culture shock for Todd. Ethnocentrism is the belief of superiority that is one’s personal ethnic group, judging another culture solely by the values and standards of one’s own culture.

Besides, it can also develop from racial or religious differences, concern to language, behavior, customs, religion, and divisions amongst members of different ethnicities, races, and religious groups in society. Even it is often accompanied by feelings of dislike for other groups. Although Todd wants to stay at the reserved hotel, Puro insists on Todd living in his aunt’s own house. For Puro’s belief that Todd will feel comfortable and warming by receiving the care of aunts Ji. Therefore Todd is put into an irritating manner. When meeting Aunti Ji- the boarding house owner, Todd is asked intimate questions such as “What does a father do? What is it you are selling? Are you married?” and so on. Todd feels uncomfortable and is invaded too much on his privacy. Todd comes from America- an individual country where people often respect to individual freedom of others and don’t have a habit of asking others about family, age, or job at the first meeting. Whereas India is a collectivist country, so they consider it highly harmonious.

They concern about others’ life, share and help others in difficulty. Indian people think that asking others about their personal life shows friendly attitudes and helps people get closer. Todd is also surprised when he learns that Indian people have eating habits with their right hand but not their left hand, and they like coffee with a lot of sugar. At the same time, Todd was acquainted with the habit of eating with his left hand and put a little sugar in his coffee. Therefore, Todd is completely embarrassed when he realizes that he had to use his left hand to do hygiene because there is no toilet paper as in America. Indians don’t use toilet paper but using their left hand instead. Furthermore, when Todd’s initial encounters with his staff at the Gharapuri call center, Todd acts in an ethnocentric manner at the beginning.

In one scene, he chastises his Indian employees, admonishing: “ Basically, you people need to learn about America,” ignoring that the workers are native English speakers, albeit with a different accent. Another reason that leads Todd to serious manner is his personality. He seemingly thinks that Indian employees are crazy; they don’t know how to work. Therefore, he feels furious and disappointed and worries that he will be in India for the rest of his life. If Todd had had time to prepare or take a culture training course, he would have accepted the new culture of India easier and got down the MPI faster. The final reason I think about is Todd’s “surrounding society.” To clarify “surrounding society,” it is when falling down the deadlock, pessimism, and weary, Todd feels homesick, so he calls for his girlfriend. However, she falls in love with another man.

Culture shock occurs in this period, and Todd falls down the case of “a fish out of water” These show the importance of learning to accept and adapt to the differences in different cultures. Being pushed up and down, Todd himself begins making some initial transformation in terms of adjustment to Indian culture. The first turning point for Todd’s transformation apparently begins in daily activities. We can see that Todd could still keep his patience and accepted Indian customs unwillingly. In another world, he didn’t open his heart to accept Indian culture but doing unwillingly. First, Todd still accepts to use his left hand to eat and his left hand to do hygiene reluctantly because there is no toilet paper as in America. Then, at McDonald’s shop, Todd realizes that it doesn’t sell cheeseburgers with beef as in American but with vegetables. Therefore, Todd was furious.

A compatriot Todd meets at the quasi-McDonald’s indicates that he too felt frustrated when he first arrived: “ I was resisting Indian. Once I gave in, I did much better” and advises Todd to embrace and accept the Indian culture. After that conversation, Todd determines to open his mind and try to adapt and accept the differences in Indian culture. An example of this is when Todd took part in color festival together with the Indian people. Being caught in Holi, a celebration of colors, he initially tries to run away from the people throwing colored powders and water balloons at him. However, he finally joins in the celebration and has fun. He then submerges himself in the village lake that he viewed as a filthy and polluted place as a Native Indian. And at this moment, all sadness and depression of Todd washed clean by water in this river and then emerging, emphasizing his acceptance of the culture.

He integrated with Indian people and mixed himself with the atmosphere of the festival. This is the first time he has felt comfortable, happy since living in India. I see his smile comfortably. It seems that the color festival increased their confidence in Todd and helped him have enough determination to adjust himself to the new culture and learn and accept the Indian culture. Todd realizes his positive change, so he made an effort to learn to understand Indian people and Indian culture. This marked the initial adjustment period of Todd. He didn’t feel angry when being surrounded and robbed by some Indian boy but made a smile at them. Especially with the image when he accepted to wear Indian culture informed that he was willing to learn about India as Ash has ever said.

Todd was willing to undergo the second period of adjustment. After that, Todd holds a staff meeting with all his phone operators and asks them what he can do to make their jobs easier. Todd admits to his staff that he has made a mistake in running the Indian call center like an American office. He asks for and implements suggestions for improving the worker environment. The process of Todd’s adjustment consists of making mistakes, recognizing mistakes, apologizing, changing to accept and getting ready for acceptance to a new culture. In a subsequent fun-fill work session at the call center, Todd naturedly obliges a request from a worker to dance Indian movies. Staff are free in casual clothing and have their own private space.

At that time, Todd officially integrates into Indian culture with further details such as accepting a cow in office, exploring Shiva Lingam’s story, eating the street Indian mango, etc. At that time, Todd feels very comfortable, happy as he is in America. In my opinion, the scene when having soup with workers from the poor shows his associating action with the Indian cultural characteristics. And being embraced to take some things from him by the Indian boys, Todd no longer feels annoying. In contrast, he feels happy and enjoys excitingly. I wonder whether Todd had opened his heart early and prepared for entering a new culture; he would have got the aim in short time and had not met so many difficulties. And factors that help Todd in adapting include Todd’s personality and his relationship. Because Todd is tolerant, sociable and open to new ideas, he rapidly gets a chance to modify his life.

Moreover, Todd’s friends such as Asha, Puro, and Aunti Ji help him cope with new challenges in coping with a new culture. At the end of the movie, Todd was a completely different man from the man he was initially. He is no longer very reluctant to going and accept Indian culture. Now, Todd’s characteristics and attitude are influenced by Indian culture. When he comes back from America, Todd called his parents immediately. Todd has evaluated family values as the most important thing to him. Also, he comes back drinking coffee with lots of sugar, with the cell phone’s tone that Ash sets for him.

In conclusion, from Todd’s culture shock and adjustment, I can draw out the lesson for myself. When moving to another country, it’s important to accept the new culture and adapt to a new culture, customs and habits. Besides, we should prepare and learn about the new culture before entering that country. Furthermore, if we keep patience and make friends with the people around, it’s useful for us to get knowledge from them. When we are shocked, we should take a break and relax as a “ draw-back-to-leap,” which helps us adjust faster. Ethnocentrism is important for each person to praise their homeland’s pride, but we should keep it appropriately to get well in a new culture. In short, we can learn a lot from people of other cultures as long as they are willing to open and adjust.

REFERENCES

  • Adalian, Josef (October 7, 2007). “‘Outsourced’ works at NBC.” Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Outsourced_%28film%29
  • Bisoux, T. (2009, November/December). “Outsourcing” the curriculum. BizEd, 42-46.
  • Carol, B (2009). Outsourced: Using a comedy film to teach intercultural communication. Zayed University
  • Hau, H.T.M., (2001). Cross-Cultural Communication. Hue: Hue college of pedagogy English Department.
  • Hofstede, G. (1980). ‘Culture’s Consequences: International Differences in Work-Related Values,’ Beverly Hills: Sage Publications.
  • Jarman, F. (n.d.). Welcome to the intercultural film database! Retrieved from http://www.uni-hildesheim.de/interculturalfilm/index.php
  • Kluckhohn( 2007). Different typologies: Hofstede’s Hall’s. Retrieved from http://acad.depauw.edu/~mkfinney/teaching/Com227/culturalportfolios/VIETNAM/VIETNAM/typologies.html

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How the Film "Outsourced" Shows the Effects of Culture Shock on an American in India. (2021, Sep 01). Retrieved October 22, 2021, from https://essayscollector.com/essays/how-the-film-outsourced-shows-the-effects-of-culture-shock-on-an-american-in-india/