Culture Shock — What Is It
Once in a while people are forced by circumstances to move from may be their countries and maybe go into other countries. This could be for short visits and for others it may be for long durations; may be due to school or work. The experience of moving and going to settle in a new environment is never always interesting. The effect is however different for different people. Culture Shock is the disorientation and change that is experienced after an international relocation. The change is always due to difference in weather, culture, language, customs, values, landscape, mode of dressing and food. You will feel as if you are in the wrong place; everything will appear abnormal and you will often find things hard to comprehend. Culture shock is not exclusive for international relocation. Change of environment in for students and employees can also cause culture shock in most cases the productivity of the person is greatly reduced and they spend a lot of energy and time trying to get back on track or to get used to the new order of doing things.
Symptoms of Culture Shock
In most cases Culture Shock will appear like homesick to most people. Although many people will have different signs of culture shock, it is never hard to tell that someone is suffering from culture shocks. The most common is that someone may look sickly. They will feel sad and lonely. The following are common signs of Culture Shock; Sleeping problems, either sleeping too much or insomnia, getting angered really fast, feeling of being vulnerable or being a target, homesickness, getting obsessed with unusual stuff like cleanliness and urge to cook, feeling insecure and shy, missing your home culture and the fear of learning a new culture and trying to adapt.
All people have different symptoms and most are those that have a combination of them. In many cases people are emotional over very trivial issues and you need to be careful with them otherwise you may end up devastating them.
How to deal with Culture Shock
The best way to avoid or reduce Culture Shock is to be enthusiastic. Try to keep your fears at bay. Yearn for a positive interaction with the host and the culture of the people there. It is also important to try and do as much research on the culture of the host. At this time one will get to know of the possible causes of culture shock and find a way to handle it.
Culture shock is feeling unsettled when one person moves from one culture to another unfamiliar one. This is usually seen amongst immigrants, expatriates or when a person goes to visit another country. The most common cause of culture shock is individuals in foreign environments.
There are four main stages subscribed to the phenomenon of culture shock, and for those who go through it. Not everyone is subjected to the four stages as many people skip stages. The first phase of culture shock is the ‘’Honeymoon’’ phase. In this phase, individuals see the difference between their old culture and new culture through tainted lenses, and in a favourably romantic light, and are fascinated with the culture.
The honeymoon period eventually ends, and the ‘’Negotiation’’ period begins. The honeymoon period usually lasts for around three months, before the negotiation phase starts. In this phase individuals notice the huge gap amongst their new culture and their old one, and this creates anxiety within them. The cause for this is usually due to the negative points about the new culture that the individual sees as evident, which contradicts their positive view during the honeymoon period. An example is language barriers, which can create anxiety.
The ‘’Adjustment’’ period follows usually after 6-12 months, where one becomes accustomed to local traditions and values. After an individual is set in a routine, the cultural differences provide less anxiety and shock, and they reasonably know what to expect in different situations, and start viewing the cultural differences in a positive light again.
The last phase, known as the ‘’adaption’’ phase, occurs when the individual is fully integrated into the new culture and actively participates in many aspects of it. It does not, however, mean that they lose some of their traits from their old culture, as they keep many of them such as accent and language.
Many people do not overcome culture shock, and as a result, are lef idolizing their old culture, while living within another entirely different culture, which is alien to them. This leads to the establishment of ghettos, where minority groups who have not assimilated well live. This has led to many impoverished areas around the world, as ghettos are isolated from the host society, and are neglected in return. Many ghettos are areas with high level of poverty and crime.
Culture shock is a major phenomenon around the world, as the world has become globalized and more people travel to different countries for economic reasons and tourism.