1. Excerpts from
Managing Culture Shock - Created Especially For The
& Families Of SEPIV by William Drake & Associates
· A sense of uprootedness
· Feeling of disorientation
· Not knowing what is going on
· Behaviors and attitudes which were necessary for obtaining goals in the culture we learned are no longer useful
· Familiar behaviors which marked a well-adjusted person in one's own culture are now seen as bad manners
· So many adjustments to be made that one becomes overwhelmed, frustrated, and angry
Pattern of Culture Shock
· At first we think it is charming
· Then we think it is evil
· Then we think it is different
Reactions to Culture Shock
· We assume something is wrong with them, not with us
· We over-value our own culture
· We define our own culture in moral terms: Natural, rational, civilized, polite
· We under-value the new culture and see it in moral terms: I.e., as immoral
About Whom Do
We Feel Culture Shock?
· Most everyone who is different:
· Culture shock is a typical reaction to difference
To get beyond the reactions of culture shock
requires a self-conscious effort to understand the
reasonableness of other people’s way of life
· Our own culture is:
· Take for granted, invisible to us
· Deeply emotionally felt, even when we do not realize it
· Learned as moral claims
· We typically assume people who behave differently are wilfully immoral
· They think the same about us
2. Excerpts from Survival Kit for Overseas Living, Robert L. Kohl's
Culture shock is the emotional and
behavioural reaction to living and working in another culture.
Each person will experience culture shock differently based on his or her personality.
Basically, there are four stages of culture shock: honeymoon, rejection, adjustment and recovery.
During the honeymoon you will be exposed to a new environment. Having so many things to do,
you will be fascinated with the new images. Basically, the Shocko Loco example describes how
most people will react after the honeymoon phase is over. One of the major causes of culture shock
is being cut off from familiar cultural patterns. This stage is characterized by a person's inability to
work effectively. Therefore, we must examine the intercultural adjustment phase.
Basically, the first thing you have
to do is begin to know your new culture. Try to seek the cultural
patterns behind situations that are strange or different. If you really want to have a good time, you
should try to make friends with host country nationals.
According to the author of "Survival Kit for overseas Living" Robert L. Kohls,
these are the main symptoms of intercultural adjustment:
1. Initial anxiety
2. Arrival fascination
3. Initial culture shock
4. Surface adjustment
5. Mental isolation
6. Integration Acceptance
7. Return anxiety
3. Coping with Culture Shock
The most effective way to combat culture
shock is to step back from a given event that has bothered you,
assess it, and search for an appropriate explanation and response. Try the following:
· Observe how others are acting in the same situation
· Describe the situation, what it means to you, and your response to it
Ask a local resident or someone with extensive
experience how they would have handled the situation
and what it means in the host culture
· Plan how you might act in this or similar situations in the future
· Test the new behavior and evaluate how well it works
· Decide how you can apply what you have learned the next time you find yourself in a similar situation
Throughout the period of cultural
adaptation, take good care of yourself. Read a book or rent a video in
home language, take a short trip if possible, exercise and get plenty of rest, write a letter or telephone home,
eat good food, and do things you enjoy with friends. Take special notice of things you enjoy about living in the host culture.
Although it can be disconcerting and a little scary, the "shock"
gradually eases as you begin to understand the
new culture. It is useful to realize that often the reactions and perceptions of others toward you--and you toward them--
are not personal evaluations but are based on a clash of cultural values. The more skilled you become in recognizing
how and when cultural values and behaviors are likely to come in conflict, the easier it becomes to make adjustments
that can help you avoid serious difficulties.
4. Another source that I had gathered originally written for foreign students... GREAT STUFF!
Almost everyone who studies, lives or works abroad experiences some degree of
culture shock. This period
adjustment involves everything from getting used to the food and language to learning how to use the telephone. No matter
how patient and flexible you are, adjusting to a new culture can, at times, be difficult and frustrating. It is easy to get lost,
depressed and homesick. You may even want to go back home!
panic…these are all totally normal reactions and you are not alone. Sometimes it
is hard to remember why you
decided to leave home. You are on an adventure - a wonderful opportunity to grow and learn - but it does not always
seem that way. Although you cannot avoid culture shock entirely, we have a number of tips that will help you get
through difficult moments:
* Start a journal of the new things you come across every day and your reactions to your new home.
Writing things down will help you keep them in perspective, and are funny to look back on!
* Never confuse your ability to speak the new language with your intelligence; it is easy to feel stupid and get
down on yourself, but there is no reason to. It takes everyone some time to adjust and become comfortable
with a new language.
* Be physically active! Walk, swim, run, play tennis or do some other physical activity you enjoy often.
You will feel better, meet new people and keep in shape.
* Keep your sense of humour. Try, no matter how hard it is, to see something of value in every new experience
and challenge you come across. Laugh now, not just later!
*Take advantage of services that your university, church or community offer. Contact a counsellor at the International
Students Office, a resident advisor if you live in residence halls, someone at your church…. If you are having a problem
with something, tell someone! They will want to help you, and you will feel a lot better having people to support you.
Don't be afraid to speak up.
Adjusting to a new culture can be difficult and frustrating, but it can also be
a wonderful, thought provoking time of
your life during which you will grow as a person. Living in a foreign country will open new doors, introduce you to
new ways of thinking, and give you the opportunity to make life-long friends.
REMEMBER: all international students share in what you are going through; you
are not alone. Even more importantly,
it is only a matter of time before you are adjusted and comfortable in your new home.
5. More tips on dealing with Culture Shock
Culture shock happens to the best of us. When culture shock does happen to you,
do not wallow in it or feel ashamed.
There are ways to minimize, adapt, and deal with culture shock, and it is best to get moving to in order to do so. Below
are some suggestions for dealing with culture shock when it does occur:
Get out and about, even
if it is first in your immediate neighborhood. Explore the layout to become
with your immediate surroundings. Try to get to know a few neighbors. Do any speak English? Afterwards,
stretch out to explore the local shops, restaurants and means of transportation.
and differences. Identifying similarities will be of a comfort to you.
will allow you to pinpoint what is causing the majority of your discomfort. How can you best deal with it?
Begin to learn a few
local words or phrases. This will help you with signs, menus, and some
will be appreciated by the people of the country.
Find a club or social
group to belong to. Be careful, however! Do not mix with a group that gets
complains about their state of being. Find a group that is active in the community somehow, through shopping
expeditions or site seeing. A church is also a good place to meet people, and there are often ones in many
denominations as well as non-denominational.
Remember, you are a
guest in another country. Avoid at all costs disparaging the host country's
culture. Once you have
gained an understanding of the country and its customs, learned a few phrases, become familiar with the neighborhood,
and made a few friends you are on your way to overcoming culture shock and becoming more self-assured about the
place in which you live.
I hope this helps!
Contact me if you have additional information or tips to share.
Julia in Holland
Last updated: March 20, 2002
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