Although planning a relocation ahead of time could really help with the culture shock, you’ll never know exactly how it feels up until you actually experience it. Culture shock is defined by the feelings of uncertainty, confusion or anxiety that people may experience when moving to a new country, especially one that is culturally distant from the home-country. One thing you must always remember, is that this cultural adjustment is absolutely normal and is a typical response of being in an unfamiliar environment – displacement.

Although the timing of each person’s adjustment process can be different, there are specific phases that most people go through before they adjust to their new environment: the honeymoon, frustration, adaptation, and acceptance stage. In order to get through all these stages as fast and as smooth as possible, you should always keep an open mind, explore the culture, make new friends and always explore your surroundings. A new place could definitely become exciting in no time, if you open your arms towards it.

The 4 Stages of Culture Shock

  1. The Honeymoon stage

This is not far from a relationships’ honeymoon phase – a time when everything feels just perfect, a time when you’re absolutely thrilled to be in a new environment. This is usually classified as the adventure stage – but unfortunately for someone relocated for a long period of time, the honeymoon phase eventually ends…

  1. The Frustration stage

People tend to become abruptly irritated by everything in their surroundings, which is a natural response of the mind fighting to adapt to the new place and let go of the old one. To be more exact, redefining the meaning of ‘home’. You can feel even more overwhelmed by this stage, especially if there is also a language barrier in between. As a result, local habits can become increasingly challenging and tasks can take longer to accomplish, leading to exhaustion.

  1. The adaptation stage

This stage appears quite gradual as people start to feel more at home in their new surroundings and accept their situation as it is. The feelings of frustration start to fade away, while more of an effort is put into adapting rather than avoiding adaptation.

  1. The acceptance stage

During the acceptance or recovery stage, people are better able to experience and enjoy their new home. Typically, beliefs and attitudes to their new surroundings improve, leading to increased self-confidence and a return of their sense of humor.

The obstacles and misunderstandings from the frustration stage have usually been resolved, allowing people to become more relaxed and happier. At this stage, most people experience growth and may change their old behaviours and adopt manners from their new culture.

How to Overcome Culture Shock: The culture CURE

The most important thing is not to avoid the culture shock, but rather to ensure that the impact is as minimalized as possible and the recovery process is as fast as possible. In order to do so, there are a few things you can practice, in order to have a better experience:

  1. Be open minded about the new culture and try to learn and understand its’ specifics, as well as be aware of the reasons why you are experiencing the cultural shock.
  2. Be aware of the differences, as well as the similarities, in a healthy way. Do not indulge in thoughts of home, constantly comparing it to the new surroundings.
  3. Start a journal & track your experience. Understand your evolution and keep it on track.
  4. Don’t isolate yourself – push yourself to socialize and make new friends.
  5. Be honest to yourself about your culture shock. Therapy could easily teach some coping skills that could help a long way.
  6. Share your cultural background which listening to others’. This is great practice.

So… Is culture shock really negative?

Although it may have a negative connotation, culture shock is something normal to experience that many people go through when being relocated especially to a country that is far culturally distant than what is called ‘home’. While it is quite a challenge, it also participates on a great matter to personal growth and in the end, a favourable experience.

Driven by passion and shaped by years of experience in global mobility, we’re ready to take the leap with you. Even if that leap means you’re bringing in your first employee from abroad, or you’ve already been through this process countless times.

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