The 4 main phases of culture shock

You plan your new life in a country where you imagine everything works almost perfectly, and that is far superior, in every way, to your home country.

When you visit you don’t see any theft, everything is clean and people seem happier. Your expectations are high, but once there, you realize you were wrong… Everything is even better.

But There comes a time when all of a sudden everything turns gray: people are not very friendly, there is dirt and suddenly you miss the food your grandparents cooked for you. Feelings of loneliness increase, everything seems strange and you think you don’t belong…

Now your home country doesn’t look so bad anymore. Plus, you would give anything to go back in time and never give up.

I want to tell you that this is completely normal. Certain patterns tend to repeat themselves in a large number of cases when a person emigrates. This is what experts have called “culture shock”.

    What is culture shock?

    Culture shock refers to process of adaptation that an individual experiences after leaving life in a cultural environment familiar to another where things are different.

    In general, it can be more associated when one moves to countries with great cultural differences (for example, if one goes from Colombia to Japan, or from Spain to Saudi Arabia) but it may also apply in cases where the differences are not so great. a lot. Of course, aspects such as language or certain common cultural roots must be taken into account.

      The stages of culture shock

      In both cases, there are four stages in the process of culture shock that serve as a guide to understanding this process.

      Stage 1: Honeymoon

      In the beginning, it’s normal to feel incredibly motivated. Emigrating means new opportunities, meeting new people and greater personal growth. When we started, everything new seemed exciting.

      Of course, not everyone experiences this phase, because in many cases you have to move to a place where you do not want to do it only for professional reasons, or to accompany your partner or a loved one. Not to mention in the case of children or teenagers who have to go to another country leaving behind their friends and their school.

      Either way, the honeymoon has been reported as a very normal stage that occurs within the first few weeks or months since arriving at the new place. A disturbing aspect is that many people may think that by changing their environment, many of the problems they had in their home or country of origin will disappear, which can cause some unease when they see that it there are no magic solutions. Although changing the environment can help “blur” the image, it is not enough.

        Stage 2: Frustration

        If during the first half everything seemed wonderful, It’s not uncommon for things to not look so good afterwards and go to the other extreme.: now the customs of the new country are annoying, people do not know how to drive, there is nothing interesting to do, and everything at home was better.

        Of course, after the honeymoon, when the excitement drops a little, it’s also normal that we start to appreciate more what we had at home, that our friends, our work, our family and the neighborhood pizzeria we missing.

        A key aspect of this phase is feelings of loneliness and lack of belonging.: not only are you far from your friends and family, but you don’t know so many people who play a role of closeness and affection. The negative feelings associated with this phase, in turn, can cause someone to enter a vicious circle where one feels bad about being alone, and for this reason one does not feel like leaving the house. and doing activities to meet people.

        This is all very common, but this phase can usually be overcome. Often time helps, but more so it makes you proactive: having initiatives to meet people, take advantage of living in another country to travel, do activities or try other meals, for example.

        Certainly, the new country was not as wonderful as you first thought, nor as bad as you see it now. The attitude with which you face this situation will be decisive for this phase to last longer or shorter.

          Phase 3: Adaptation

          After making new friends and acquaintances, and after generating a new routine (probably incorporating the habits of the new culture), we can say that we have entered the adaptation phase, where we begin to shape what will be his new life, y he can more objectively assess the positive and negative aspects of this new country. In turn, one can also appreciate personal growth, in relation to the challenge of emigration (where one leaves one’s comfort zone in search of something different).

          The atmosphere improves significantly and you can integrate more into your new home: improve your relationship with the places, perfect the language and learn more and more to flourish, in all senses, in this new country. .

          Phase 4: Acceptance

          To finish, new life is accepted, acknowledging that feeling longing is inevitable, but with what you can live with. Fortunately, today’s technology makes it possible to stay in touch with loved ones at very low cost and even see their faces if a video call is made, so it’s never too late to take a week off to calling family or friends, and even planning a trip to the home country, as often and as desired as possible which will serve as motivation to move forward.

          It is at this stage that the person can feel part of the new culture and integrate it into their own identity, without neglecting their previous life.

          This process is not always linear, and some stages can be more or less durable depending on the person. In some cases, as mentioned earlier, certain phases may not manifest, not very noticeably. But, nevertheless, the important thing is to understand that emigration can have its challenges, from the psychological point of view, but it is not at all something strange or something that cannot be faced.

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