By Adrian Pesano, 1st year student
Are you prepared for Culture Shock???
When students go abroad for a cultural immersion, they need to prepare themselveseffectively. Indeed, efficient packing and getting background information about the visited country are some tasks they need to do to be well prepared for the trip. But do you know that preparation for culture shock is also required for students who will participate in this kind of travel.
What is culture Shock?
What we call “culture shock” is the physical and emotional distress that occurs when we are taken away of our usual environment and we are immerged in a foreign one. This phenomenon can happen when we immigrate or visit a new country. Most of the people who join a new culture experience a culture shock. Each individual reacts differently.
The three phases of culture shock
- 1. Honeymoon
During the first days or weeks following your arrival to the new country, you feel exited and are fascinated by the new culture. Everything seems so exotic and perfect. You think positively and are ready for new experiences.
- 2. Crisis or Confrontation
This phase appears usually with the beginning of routine. You change from being a tourist to being an expat. It’s a harsh period, in which you are totally aware of the differences between your own country and the country you are currently staying in. You idolize your original country and are negative towards your immersion country. Here are some symptoms related to this phase:
- Loss of sense of humor
- Loss of appetite or over consume of food
- Physical pain
- Over consume of alcohol
- Tired state and excessive sleeping
- Inability to concentrate
- 3. Adaption phase
Little by little you begin to accept without prejudice the cultural differences of this foreign society. You understand their customs and habits. Build new relationships with the local people and feel less isolated.
This image illustrates the phases explained above:
Ways to lessen culture shock
There are no magic solutions to defeat culture shock. To be well informed about your destination country can help you to deal with it. However you must learn to find a balance between your native country’s values and your staying land’s values. Also, to understand that you are living a culture shock and be able to express yourself about it can be a good relief. You can learn more about coping strategies for culture shock at this governmental site: http://travel.gc.ca/travelling/health-safety/culture-shock
Adaptation to change is a slow process. It needs an everyday adjustment of behavior and reactions. It requires constant learning. So culture shock is not necessarily a bad thing. It pushes you to think and evaluate yourself. It can be highly profitable to live in a new culture. So why don’t you try it?