The Stages of Cul­ture Shock

That's China - - 城市漫步 -

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.

Re-in­te­gra­tion Stage

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.

Au­ton­omy Stage

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.

In­de­pen­dence Stage

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.

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