What is culture shock and how does it occur?
Culture shock occurs when people experience an unfamiliar way of life when they visit to a new country. The experience of culture shock comes from not knowing what to do or what is appropriate or inappropriate in particular situations.
Culture shock is real and I have experienced this myself. I’m from Bangkok, Thailand and I just moved to New York three and a half months ago. The first two months were a roller coaster of culture shock; I hate that, love this, and cry for no reason!
First stage: Honeymoon stage
When you first arrive in your new home city, your feeling is full of excitement, and enjoyment. Everything is so perfect! This time is called the “honeymoon” stage.
The moment I arrived here, I felt like New York is one of the best places in the world. There are many things to do and many nice restaurants to go to.
The second stage: withdrawal/rejection
In this stage, people experience more cultural differences and start to find things strange and frustrating. You will feel tired, sad, angry, irritable and even depressed. In this stage people find the behavior of others unusual and begin to criticize. My second month here was quite depressing. I felt homesick. I got frustrated at the little things. I almost lost all of my confidence. People talking loudly in the subway could make me scream. From where I came, people tend to speak quietly and walk slowly. In New York, everyone is in a hurry. You see businessmen walking fast and they don’t look at anyone. At that time there was a moment I told myself that “I don’t think I belong here!”
Third stage: Adjustment
At this stage, people tend to get used to their lives in a new city. For myself, I feel more settled and I have my confident back. I started to understand people’s behavior and I accepted the way they are without judging.
Fourth stage: Enthusiasm/Adaptation
People start to enjoy being in the new culture. They feel like they are at home. For myself, I begin to see the advantages of living here again. I quite enjoy living in New York now!
How to deal with culture shock?
You need to know that you are not the only one feeling this way! Millions of people who are adapting themselves to a new culture feel the same way. You have to be open-minded and try not to judge anything that different from where you are from. I know it will be very frustrating at first, but as the time goes by, you will get used to the environment around you. Stay positive during culture shock. Try to relax and take everything easy. Another tactic that I found very useful is not to compare things here to things at your home because you will feel disappointed. Have faith in your self that you will survive. At the end of the day, you will feel grateful that you had a chance to explore in another culture. Make new friend. Use your time abroad wisely and make the most of this experience. Wherever you are in the world, enjoy!