He was very tired, for though they had ridden slowly, they had ridden with very little rest. Hour after hour for nearly three weary days he had jogged up and down, over passes, and through long dales, and across many streams. Sometimes where the way was broader he had ridden at the king’s side, not noticing that many of the Riders smiled to see the two together: the hobbit on his little shaggy gray pony, and the Lord of Rohan on his great white horse. Then he had talked to Théoden, telling him about his home and the doings of the Shire-folk, or listening in turn to tales of the Mark and its mighty men of old. But most of the time, especially on this last day, Merry had ridden by himself just behind the king, saying nothing, and trying to understand the slow sonorous speech of Rohan that he heard the men behind him using. It was a language in which there seemed to be many words that he knew, though spoken more richly and strongly than in the Shire, yet he could not piece the words together. At times some Rider would lift up his clear voice in stirring song, and Merry felt his heart leap, though he did not know what it was about.
All the same he had been lonely, and never more so than now at the day’s end. He wondered where in all this strange world Pippin had got to; and what would become of Aragorn and Legolas and Gimili. Then suddenly like a cold touch on his heart he thought of Frodo and Sam. ‘I am forgetting them!’ he said to himself reproachfully. ‘And yet, they are more important than all the rest of us. And I came to help them; but now they must be hundreds of miles away, if they are still alive.’ He shuddered.
– The Return of the King, Chapter 3
When I began reading The Lord of the Rings for relaxation, I never expected to get a lesson in culture shock, but I feel like these two paragraphs express exactly what it is like to be a stranger in a new culture.
“He was very tired, for though they had ridden slowly, they had ridden with very little rest. Hour after hour for nearly three weary days he had jogged up and down, over passes, and through long dales, and across many streams.” Merry was tired – he was required to do an activity he was not accustomed to and it made him tired. Likewise, we found ourselves very tired when we first arrived because everything was new and required a lot of concentration. Simply buying sunscreen required a lot of effort – Where do we buy it? How much should it cost? Which bottle should we buy? When everything is new, it takes more work to accomplish a small task.