The Stages of Culture Shock
The Honeymoon Stage
The “wow” stage, where everything is brilliantly new and wonderfully stimulating. You touchdown in a foreign land and while soaking in the atmosphere and interacting with new people, you feel a sense of euphoria. The only downfall is jetlag, where your body sometimes just doesn’t want to co-operate with the time-difference.
The Distress Stage
Now you’ve had a taste of life in a new place, and the cultural differences begin to weigh on your mind. Doubts arise as life can be more challenging than anticipated and your support network and systems are no longer easily accessible. Frustrations arise and are often expressed in the form of anger.
Since you are having a hard time adjusting to the new surroundings, you start to only remember the positives from “back home” and therefore you start to idealize your own culture, food and people. You feel down and out, but find it hard to see how your mood is linked to culture shock. You question why you decided to move in the first place. Depression sets in as the only solution you can see involves buying a plane ticket home.
Also called the “emergence stage”, you start adjusting to your surroundings and appreciating the differences. Having probably made many mistakes, miscommunications, and misinterpretations along the way, you have now designed your own ways of coping to problems that may arise based on your growing experience.
After blindly struggling through the roller coaster of emotions, you’ve settled in and are feeling rather satisfied with your home away from home with your own routines and newly established support network. This doesn’t necessarily mean total acceptance or understanding, but you feel comfortable in your own shoes, and can walk around without getting easily frustrated.