Culture Shock

The Oxford Dictionary defines Culture Shock as “a disorientation experienced when suddenly subjected to an unfamiliar culture or way of life”. Anyone who has ever lived or traveled abroad has experienced a dose of culture shock. At the time, it may just feel like homesickness, however there are several signs and symptoms that can be spotted.

Here are a few:

  • Feeling lonely or a sense of sadness
  • Pains, intense headaches and/or allergies
  • Feelings of anger, depression or vulnerability
  • Feeling shy or insecure
  • Insomnia or sleeping too much
  • Idealizing your own culture
  • Becoming overly concerned about your health

Moving abroad sounds like fun, huh? Well it is! The transition may be smoother if you understand the Culture Shock Model and the common reactions people experience when moving abroad.

Step 1: The Honeymoon Stage

This is when you start feeling euphoria. You feel energized, inspired and enriched.

Step 2: The Distress Stage

Everything you are experiencing no longer feels new. You start to feel like the people you use as a support system are out of reach and too far away. You may experience a sense of confusion, loneliness and feel the lust starting to fade away.

Step 3: The Re-Integration State

You may start feeling angry, resentful and frustrated with trying to accumulate to the new culture. You may start idealizing life back home and compare cultures. This may lead you to develop prejudices towards the new culture. As bad as it sounds, this is all extremely normal, in fact, it is proof that you are adjusting and is a common reaction among people.

Step 4: Autonomy Stage

This is the first stage of acceptance as you start to feel like yourself again. You start to understand and accept the differences which enable you to take a look around and appreciate where you are.

Step 5: Independence Stage

This is when you feel like you are yourself again. You are able to fully embrace the culture. You feel a sense of comfort and you become confident when it comes to making decisions. This is when you appreciate cultural differences and you start to feel at home ­čÖé

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