What is culture shock? What if I get it?

Culture shock is the process of encountering, adjusting to, and thriving in a culture different from your own. Experts have identified four stages of adjusting to life in a new culture:

Honeymoon phase: The new culture is fascinating and exhilarating.

Frustration phase: The new culture is increasingly irritating. Functioning with less than robust language and cultural skills, you can view the new culture as dysfunctional and inferior as you compare it to your own culture

Adjustment phase: You grow in your skills of living in the new culture, and begin to identify its positive aspects.

Acceptance phase: The new culture now feels like home. While you’re still aware of its faults, your new culture is enjoyable.[1]

You most likely will experience culture shock to some extent. Some remedies for it include :

A healthy walk with God. Drink deeply of his grace.

Reasonable expectations. Know that it will happen. Don’t be surprised.

Strong friendships and field leaders. Develop a support network for talking through the process with those who’ve encountered it before you.

Know what you need. What will help you in the process? As an introvert you may need time alone to process culture shock. You may need an occasional meal at an American restaurant. Build what you need into your schedule while adjusting.

[1] http://www.northeastern.edu/nuin/pdf/gre_stages_culture_shock.pdf

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Culture Shock: Dealing with Stress in Cross-Cultural Living