What is Culture Shock?
Culture Shock is defined as: The feeling of disorientation experienced by someone when they are suddenly subjected to an unfamiliar culture, way of life, or set of attitudes. Wikipedia
It is a common occurrence amongst travellers, and Expats in particular can experience it due to their extended immersion in unfamiliar cultures. The shock of the new environment; climate, food, dress, and possibly anxieties about separation with loved ones and family members are all factors that contribute to Culture Shock. But it is not all bad. You will be pleased to hear that there are positive aspects too and it is in fact quite good for you!
The 6 stages of Culture Shock
Stage 1: Planning and preparation for the change; learning etiquette and cultures.
Stage 2: Initial Euphoria at arriving at your new destination.
Stage 3: Irritability; Dealing with everyday simple aspects of life that are alien to you.
Stage 4: Gradual Adjustment; Culture becomes familiar and less challenging.
Stage 5: Adaptation; You’ve learnt how to function in your new culture. Feeling assimilated
Stage 6: Returning Home; Old set of values remain while new ones have been acquired.
Studies have shown that it is vital for intellectual and social growth. A survey of data spanning 50 years and more than 3,400 respondants found out that; 96% felt more confident in themselves and 98% better understood their cultural biases and values. In addition, 97% felt their time spent immersed in another culture inspired greater maturity. Impressive stats to say the least and clearly a positive aspect of relocation.
Tips to get over the initial shock
- Stay Grounded; What you’re feeling is normal and it is a widely shared emotion.
- Cook Home Comforts; Cook your favourite meals from home to share with your new friends.
- Stay Connected; Make time for regular webcam chats and calls with your family.
- Challenge Yourself; Take time to get out of your comfort zone. Interact with someone new every day for example.
- Find a Guide; Sometime to help you learn the language and navigate the pitfalls of your new culture.
Culture Shock. Benefits for personal development.
So, you see, something that can initially seem intimidating can by it’s very nature can promote personal growth and development by challenging you and making you feel exposed.