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Home » pages » How to deal with culture shock

How to deal with culture shock

Adjusting to a new culture can be intimidating and overwhelming to the point a new term culture shock was coined to define the phenomenon. Cutlure shock is both emotional and physical and can manifest itself in symptoms such as sadness, loneliness, health issues, loss of identity, and a general lack of confidence. It is however an important part of adapting to a new culture . There are basically four different phases visitors encounter when arriving in a new culture. As visitors transition through these phases they grow within their new environment and finally accept the change and settle down.

The Honeymoon or Tourist Phase

This is when the transition is considered exciting. Depending on how the new culture is set up, and the changes the visitor encounters, this phase may be short lived.

The Crisis or Hostility Phase

After the excitement wears off, the visitor enters the hostility or crisis phase. During this phase the individual is undergoing what is termed as “Culture Shock”. The visitor feels disoriented, surprised, and confused at their surroundings and different life. At this point they find themselves suffering from acute homesickness, getting depressed, eating and sleeping habits change, and they may end up withdrawing emotionally and physically from their surroundings.

The Recovery Phase

This phase is signaled by a change in the individual’s spirit. The surroundings become more acceptable allowing the person to be more objective about their surroundings which leads to more social interactions and acceptance of their new life.

The Adjustment Phase

The adjustment phase allows the visitor the chance to start a normal routine and life. To better adjust to the cultural difference it is recommended that visitors:

  • Accept their transition phases as normal and rest in the knowledge that things will get better
  • Contact people from home and keep abreast with the happenings of their home through newspapers and magazines. This can help an individual through the adjustment phase.
  • Eat familiar foods to retain the bonds with home. Call friends and family as an antidote.
  • Keep active and focus on taking care of oneself. Exercise and get enough sleep to keep well and healthy.
  • Understand that failure is an option and through failure people learn.
  • Find people who can help in the adjustment phase.
  • It is important to work on language skills if a visitor finds themselves immersed in a culture with an unfamiliar language.

Cultural Immersion Through Homestays

Some visitors enter into programs where they are forced into a culture through cultural immersion and a homestay. These programs help visitors learn the culture and language by staying in a home within the new culture. Visitors in the program are integrated into the lives of the family helping in daily chores. The programs are challenging but visitors are trained to know the different phases they will experience in their cultural adjustment and are open to the phases. Immersion programs help visitors learn new languages.

Visitors learn as much as they can about their host country, language and culture, and weather.   Health issues are also of concern, visitors should learn as much as they can about money issues,   health issues, travel warnings in the host country.