As you prepare for your travels or international internship this summer, remember to be aware of culture shock the four main stages that many travelers experience. Most people experience some form of culture shock during their travels. Culture shock is the discomfort that comes from being in a new environment, culture, or country. There are four main stages of culture shock, but each person will experience these phases in different ways or not at all. For example, some people may never go through the rejection phase, while someone else may never get past that phase at all. Each person will react to new cultures, people, and stimuli in their own way.
Four Stages of Culture Shock:
1. Honeymoon Stage—the honeymoon stage is when you are overwhelmed with joy about your host city. This is the phase where you are excited about the differences in culture, food, and social norms.
2. Rejection—Like all honeymoons, that phase eventually ends where you enter into a phase marked by feelings of resentment, anger, and criticism. During this stage of culture shock you become aware that differences in cultural understanding and language barriers make simple tasks difficult to manage leading to feelings of frustration.
3. Regression & Isolation—The frustrations from the Rejection phase can morph into feelings of criticism of the host country and idealization of your home country. When you’re having trouble adjusting to a new place, you can sometimes long for the comforts of home and may isolate yourself from experiences in your host city. Symptoms associated with this stage include homesickness, anxiety, irritability, anger, and inexplicable fits of crying.
4. Adjustment and Adaptation—Gradually the feelings of anxiety will fade and you can begin to adjust to the new culture by cultivating friendships and by making a routine. As you begin to become familiar with your new home the feelings of unease will dissipate. No one ever truly acculturates into a foreign country, but with time you can learn to appercaite it and adapt as much as possible.
Once you’re aware of the stages of culture shock, you can address it and find ways to cope. Some of the best ways to overcome culture shock include:
1. Learning as much as you can about your host country (before and during your time abroad)
2. Find something about the host country that you love everyday. Cherish the differences
3. Talk with locals and stay away from spending time with others that may bash the culture or bolster your home country
4. Blog or keep a journal
5. Stay positive--your attitude can make or break your experience abroad. Look for the positive in all situations to really combat feelings of homesickness or culture shock
Have you ever experienced culture shock? How did you overcome feelings of anxiety or isolation?