By Asfa Asad


In this write-up, we will be discussing what is culture shock and how does it work? Culture shock is the mixed feeling of uncertainty and disorientation experienced by someone when subjected to a different way of life. The state of Culture Shock is mostly felt by tourists, or who visit other countries for business, or those who move to other places. 

Who defined the term Culture Shock?   

Kalervo Oberg was a Canadian Anthropologist who coined the term “culture shock” in 1960. He was also a civil servant and a teacher who traveled the world and penned down these experiences so others could enjoy them as well. He had a firm belief that all individuals went through a process of identity loss, anxiety, and confusion when interacting with a new culture.

How Culture Shock Works and its Stages

To understand Culture shock, psychologists have divided the whole culture shock into four basic phases/stages.

1- Honey Moon Stage

It starts with the Honeymoon stage. The honeymoon stage is mostly overwhelmingly positive because a traveler finds the language, people, and food in their new surroundings exciting. The honeymoon stage can be the entire trip if the trip is short. On long trips, the honeymoon stage will usually phase out eventually because we feel we are on some kind of adventure.

2-Frustration Stage

Unfortunately, the frustration stage is the most difficult of all stages of culture shock, and those who have lived abroad or traveled frequently must be familiar. At this stage, the exhaustion of not understanding gestures, signs, and language sets in, and miscommunications rise to the peak. Small errands like doing laundry and buying groceries further trigger frustration. Small things like losing keys, missing the bus, or not being able to easily order food in a restaurant make things even worst. This stage is also known as the Rejection Stage. All these factors together make us miss our homeland much more.

3- Adjustment Stage

The third stage of Culture shock is the Adjustment Stage. This stage comes after the frustration stage, where one begins to realize that the host culture is not as bad. The stranger starts to feel comfortable in the new normal. He starts getting familiar with the culture, people, food, and language which used to be weird for him once. One starts making friends, navigation becomes easy, and things are still a little difficult for him, but he is the survivor now!

4- Acceptance Stage

Finally, the stage comes after a lot of emotional struggle known as the acceptance stage. The acceptance stage means that one has become used to of new culture. He has understood how things work in the new normal. This phase is also known as “ease at last”. As its name suggests, one finally can feel relaxed in a new environment. Now he can be a great guide to someone who is going to move to the country or a newbie traveler.

So above mentioned are the four stages of culture shock. There is also an uncommon fifth stage known as Reverse Culture shock. This fifth stage of culture shock is a little weird as it makes you uncomfortable when going back to your native environment. Now everything in your place hits you hard and you feel disoriented in your local culture as you were so used to of new environment.  Surprised? I was too. Someone said it right “Life is not the bed of roses.”

Tips to cope with the Culture shock

1- Accept the fact that you are suffering from Culture shock, and soon it will pass.

2- Have patience and learn new things like the language, directions, and practices of that country or culture.

3- Take good care of yourself as you cannot afford any damage or unfavorable circumstances at that time.

4- Travel as much as you you can find a travel buddy with whom you can share your anxiety and stress.

5- Make a local friend to help you out in a new environment.

6- Make one call at least a day to your family to share your feelings and thoughts.

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