The 4 seasons of Culture Shock and how to deal with them

Leaving home for an internship or to study abroad can be a stressful and exhausting experience, even though it may be something you have planned and prepared for.In fact, many people start having difficulties with the new and unfamiliar surroundings at some point – maybe you are one of them. The most important thing is to realize that your experience is actually quite normal and that there are plenty of young people who feel the same way.

What does culture shock even mean?

As TeensHealth.org defines, Culture shock describes the impact of moving from a familiar culture to one that is unfamiliar. It includes the shock of a new environment, meeting lots of new people and learning the ways of a new country. It also includes the shock of being separated from the important people in your life, such as family, friends and colleagues: people who give you support and guidance. According to an article by the University of Saint Louis, culture shock can be described as consisting of at least one of four distinct phases: Honeymoon, Frustration, Adjustment, and Mastery.

If you can relate to at least one of these stages, the odds that you might be experiencing culture shock are not that low.

Finally, here are the 4 phases you guys might be experiencing:

1. Honeymoon

During this period, the differences between the old and new culture are seen in a romantic light. Everything is new and fascinating, the food, the pace of life and the locals’ habits for example. But most likely, this stage eventually ends after a few weeks.

2. Frustration

After some time (usually around three months, depending on the individual) euphoria subsides and reality kicks in. Many people haven’t even compensated the changes that happened in their lives until now.

The most common problems people deal with include: information overload, language barrier, generation gap,technology gap, skill interdependence, homesickness (cultural), infinite regress (homesickness), boredom (job dependency).

3. Adjustment

Again, after some time (usually 6 to 12 months), one gets acquainted to the new culture and develops routines. One finds the way back to basic living, and things become more “normal”. The culture begins to feel familiar.

4. Mastery

This period is often referred to as the bicultural stage.

During this phase individuals are participating fully and comfortably in the new culture. This does not mean that you are totally converted; you have still kept your traits from your culture, such as accents and languages.

seasons1

To be honest, there is no true way to entirely prevent culture shock, as individuals in any society are personally affected by cultural contrasts differently. But there are some things that might help some of you to overcome it:

1. Keep an open mind

2. Make an effort to learn the local language

3. Make sure you get to know people in your new environment

4. Try to achieve a sense of stability in your life. (Establishing a routine will give you afeeling of safety)

5. Most importantly, maintain a sense of humor!

No worries guys, because, if you are an optimist in life like myself, there is absolutely no bad situation, circumstance or whatsoever one can’t get out of!

Author: Mara Illic

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