Living abroad is a thrilling experience which gives a new approach to the world. It increases the curiosity to explore and learn about the new avenues of life. Also, with the passage of time, one can feel uncomfortable, and little lost in this new culture.
Well, such an experience is called cultural shock!
Culture shock is a personal experience; that a person may have when he or she moves from one cultural surrounding to another. It is a physical and psychological disorientation that occurs in a new environment or culture. Loss of moral support and change in living habits are the factors that contribute to the feeling of culture shock.
Culture shock is a common phenomenon. Even the most open-minded, frequent travelers are not immune to culture shock. Its effects can be seen even after one has become quite accustomed to the new ways of life.
Know whether you are going through a culture shock?
Culture shock differs from people to people. It takes a long time to develop and often affects people living far away from their native place in entirely unexpected ways.
Some of the common symptoms of culture shock are:
- Loss of self-confidence
- Isolation, loneliness, etc.
- Impatience, annoyance, over-sensitivity, frustration etc.
- Grief, mourning, depression etc.
- Fear and insecurity
Stages of culture shock
Basically, culture shock moves through four different stages.
These are as follows:
- Honeymoon stage
In this period the difference between the old and new culture looks adventurous and romantic. As such, a person likes the new ways of life, cuisines, weather and climate. They associate with the polite native people and find the people of their nationals. Eventually, this period ends within a couple of weeks.
- Negotiation stage
After some time the difference between the old and new culture becomes more apparent. The language barrier, food quality, transportation system etc. creates a sense of disconnection, frustration and anxiety.
- Adjustment stage
Usually, after 6-12 months, one gets accustomed to the new culture and gets into a daily routine. People also start developing some problem-solving skills to deal with the situations.
- Adaptation stage
Adaptability is the essential feature of human beings. At this stage, one is fully able to participate in the host culture.
Nothing to fear! You can deal with culture shock quite easily!
Fighting with culture shock needs not to be taught. As the traveler becomes familiar with the place, people, customs, food and language; they become more palatable.
Few things that you should keep in mind are:
- Learn as much about the new location before going.
- Be confident, open-minded and willing to learn.
- Try to associate with like-minded people and build new friendships.
- Keep in touch with family and friends so that you can combat reverse culture shock when you return home.
Although culture shock is difficult to overcome; but they are an integral part of the cultural experience. By finding ways to cope up with it, you can prevent culture shock from ruining your travelling experience!