Transitioning into a new culture can cause a ton of anxiety. Many students can go through culture shock leading them to have a flood of mixed emotions that can cause their experience abroad to be more or less of a positive experience.
Culture shock is the feeling of alienation and decreased contact in the host culture, it happens to almost everyone but in varying degrees. There can be various symptoms while going through culture shock, that can be psychological, emotional and communication based. Each symptom can be categorized in one of the 3 stages of culture shock. It is important that one can identify in what stage they are in.
- Stage 1: is when “everything is wonderful” or the Honeymoon stage. You are excited and loving everything about the host culture, this place is a piece of heaven!
- Stage 2: is “everything is awful”, this stage can last from a few weeks up to several months, it is when you hit culture shock. In some cases people never experience this stage at all. Physical and emotional symptoms like sickness, depression and excessive anger appear in this stage.
- Stage 3: is when “everything is OK” and you are finally adapting to your surroundings. At this point the individual has learned a lot more about the culture, and have become more accustomed to the food, sights and sounds of the new culture. In this stage a positive self-concept alleviates self –doubt and allows you to experience new thing with less stress. Congratulations! You made it through the worst of culture shock.
Depending on how much time you are spending in the host culture, these stages can reoccur, or one may stay in the same stage the entire time, it varies by person. Here are some suggestions on working through culture shock: