Culture shock is experienced by a majority of people, radically changing their environment. It is of two-folded nature: it makes you learn new things, however, the way it happens is quite aggressive and stressful. Culture shock is almost inevitable, unless you come to live in a foreign environment for a period of time, that is longer than an average vacation. To deal with it successfully, one has to be ready for it and think of the ways of changing the situation for the better.
Culture shock is theoretically divided into 5 stages. They are reminiscent of the stages of grief and loss, and represent human way of getting used to dramatic changes. However, there are certain features, applicable only to this transition. Each stage is characterized by certain symptoms along with the change of emotional state a person goes through.
The first stage is best characterized by the word ”honeymoon”. Usually, people tend to enjoy new experiences: meeting new people, tasting local food and learning about different habits. However, later on excitement changes for despair: there’s no way back. Local peculiarities have to turn into new routine. Then comes the next stage.
Here comes realization that the honeymoon is over. Everything is terrible: starting from the water quality, ending with being frustrated by circadian rhythms, acceptable for the locals. Quite often this stage is accompanied by a number of physiological symptoms: one may experience insomnia, daytime drowsiness, even problems with digestion (for the reason of unusual water and food, that turns from a local specialty into a regular diet). That’s a pivot point: a person may either stay here or proceed to the next stage.
Being firm in the decision to stay in the host country, one usually comes to the negotiation stage. It means engaging into “peace talks”, trying to convince yourself in situation being normal. That’s when an individual pays the most effort to make peace with the circumstances they’ve found themselves in. Asking questions about the new environment, comparing the answers they would give at home, a person eventually finds solutions to a number of problems that could have seemed fatal. Once this stage is over, the most troublesome period of getting used to the life in a new environment is completed.
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