For anyone moving to
an unfamiliar, new culture, they are guaranteed to face some sort of culture
shock at some point of their adjustment into their new life. Whether the person
is studying or working  in the new
culture, culture shock is normal to face. It can be emotionally draining and
frustrating, but it is possible to work through the four stages and succeed in
your new environment. As previously mentioned, culture shock involves four
stages. The honeymoon phase, where someone feels infatuated with the new
culture. During this stage, almost everything about the new culture is perceived
as intriguing and exciting. Although this stage is thrilling and enjoyable, it
will come to an end eventually. Once the honeymoon phase has passed, the person
will begin seeing the negative aspects of the new culture. The new culture no
longer amazes the person and does not live up to their previously set high
standards. This phase is called the frustration stage, as they begin to feel
irritated and reject aspects of the new culture. This phase is the most
emotionally exhausting, and can be hard to get through. But once this stage is
past, the adjustment stage begins. During the adjustment stage, the person will
have less of an emotional reaction to different aspects of the new culture.
Thus, they slowly begin to understand and see the new culture better from a
clear perspective. At this point, they are starting to feel more integrated
into the culture and regain interest in learning about the culture, people, and
language. Going through this stage then results in the last stage of culture
shock, the acceptance stage. The person no longer feels as though they are a
foreigner, and feel as though they are a part of the new society. They now
think of the new culture as home, and have learned to accept and adjust to the
new ways of living. Even though they may not feel like they understand all
aspects of the culture, they have accepted how things are. Once they have
really accepted and became accustomed to their new culture, they sometimes
begin seeing the faults in their previous home culture. Even though these
stages of culture shock are extremely challenging, it is important to be
educated about the subject and to understand that it is completely normal to
suffer from culture shock. For international students dealing with culture
shock, it is important to keep busy and find support groups to help cope with
the stress of school and culture shock. Making an effort to learn about the
culture, people, and the language can help international students though the
process of culture shock. Above everything, keeping a positive outlook on the
situation will help reduce the symptoms of culture shock and improve the
international student’s experience. All of the benefits gained from moving to a
foreign culture will far outweigh the negative symptoms of culture shock. Going
through the painful experience of culture shock teaches someone their true
values in life, and helps them see the world from a new perspective.   

 

3. Conclusion

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Even though culture
shock may feel negative in the moment, it is an important part of adjusting to
a new culture. Learning something new, such as the aspects of a different
culture, is best taught through experience. Leaving your comfort zone is
usually an unpleasant experience, but in the end you grow from it. When someone
travels to a foreign country, all of their preexisting expectations and beliefs
about society and human life become questionable. Many lessons can be learned
from visiting foreign cultures, and the experience will ultimately have a
positive effect on your life. When people take the time to learn about the
aspects of different cultures, they are able to have compassion for the people
living within that culture. Many of the global issues we face today, such as
racism, war and poverty, could be fixed if more people had an understanding and
compassion for the other cultures. Someone can spend their entire life in a
specific culture that teaches them what is right and what is wrong, and then
fly to the other side of the world one day to discover that another culture
teaches the complete opposite. Therefore the foreigner’s eyes will be opened
and they will gain a new perspective on the values and beliefs of their own
culture. This is a beneficial experience, as it can help someone discover what their
own beliefs are and what they truly value in life.  

 

2.3. The Importance of Culture Shock

 

These stages of
culture shock can have a huge affect on international students, especially
since they are often making the move to the new culture completely alone,
without family members or coworkers. The international students will not only
have the stress of school weighing on them, but as well the stress of living in
a new culture. For international students to succeed in their lives and
studies, it is important to be educated about culture shock. It is important
for them to know that culture shock is completely normal, and that they are not
the only ones facing these problems. Even though it can be emotionally
exhausting, it will pass and get better with time. They will learn to cope with
the stress and frustration that comes along with living in a new culture, and
eventually begin to enjoy living in their new home. Some suggestions to help
international students get through culture shock, is to attend new comer’s and
international groups in the new city they are living in. These cultural groups
can inform international student on how to do things such as finding a doctor,
using the public transportation, finding a hairdresser, and language classes (At Home in Germany, p 10). Some other ways to cope
with culture shock include learning more about the culture you are living in,
learning the language, and keeping an open mind. Once someone first arrives in
a new culture, it is important to establish a daily routine. Having a sense of
control and balance in their life will help with the feeling of disorientation.
International students should try to build a new network of friends, to cope
with the feelings of loneliness. Keeping busy and getting involved in
activities is another helpful way for international students to battle culture
shock, as it promotes living in the moment and gives them less time to spend
thinking about what they are missing at home. Someone battling with culture
shock should make sure to get enough sunlight, exercise, and try to keep a
journal. These three things will help the international students to relax and
reflect on their journey. Another helpful tip for international students is to
share their experiences with others, and create a support network for
themselves. International students should try their best to maintain a positive
attitude throughout this process, even when things get tough. Ultimately, they
are the ones who control their experience in the culture abroad (At Home in Germany, pp 11-12).

 

2.2. How Culture Shock Effects International Students

 

After fighting
through the emotional challenges of culture shock, someone will finally reach the
last phase which is called the acceptance stage. At this stage the person now
accepts the different aspects of the new culture, and considers it their home (At Home in Germany, p 10). There is a now a level of
integration, where they feel and see themselves as a part of the new society. During
this stage they begin to feel as though they can reach their full potential in
this country (https://www.gringotree.com/understanding-4-phases-culture-shock/).
When someone reaches this phase, the aspects of the new culture which are
different to their home culture no longer affect them in a negative way. They
don’t feel as though they completely understand everything about the new
culture, but they accept that fact and feel at peace learning new things about
the culture gradually.

 

2.1.4. The Acceptance Stage

 

After going through
the frustration stage, things start to get better overtime. This stage is
called the adjustment stage, and is a gradual shift from feeling frustrated to
feeling at ease and accepting the new culture. The person becomes more familiar
with the thinking and values of the new culture. They begin to pick up on
signals and  are able to better read the
new culture. During this stage, people will branch out and make new friends.
They start feeling more comfortable again, and often start preferring some of
the aspects of their new culture over their home culture. There are less
emotional reactions to the new culture, and people begin thinking more clear
and learn deeper about the culture. They now are able to appreciate the
different ways and approaches to doing 
things (https://www.princeton.edu/oip/practical-matters/Cultural-Adjustment.pdf).
The person starts to appreciate the new culture again, and will begin
identifying their self with the culture. They feel as though they are a part of
the new culture, and will regain the confidence they may have lost in the
previous stage. It is sometimes possible that feelings of pride for the new
culture may result in seeing your home culture in a negative view.

 

2.1.3. The Adjustment Stage

 

Once someone has reached the end of the honeymoon phase, they begin to
see everything a little bit more clearly. This is when they begin to notice the
negative aspects of the culture they previously felt so in love with. This
stage is called the frustration stage, and includes feelings of homesick,
annoyance, and sadness. During the frustration stage, the novelty of the new
culture begins to wear off. Someone who was previously focused on the
interesting aspects of the new culture, will suddenly shift their focus to the differences
between the new culture and their home culture. They often feel helpless and
frustrated, and the small differences in the two cultures begin to feel like
major hardships. It is at this point of culture shock that most people will set
out on a search for familiar activities, food, and people from their home
culture (https://www.princeton.edu/oip/practical-matters/Cultural-Adjustment.pdf).
At this stage people begin experiencing difficulties with the language,
friends, housing, and schoolwork. These difficulties lead to feelings of
frustration and resentment. Tasks that would be considered little and
effortless in the person’s home culture, become large challenges in the new
culture. After feeling so great during the honeymoon phase, the person has set
high standards and expectations. When these expectations are no longer being
met, they begin to feel let down and disappointed (https://www.squaremouth.com/travel-advice/the-four-stages-of-culture-shock/).
They start to question why certain things are done differently, and miss the
customs of their home culture. The time that it will take for someone to move
out of the frustration stage will vary, depending on the person. It can be
exhausting to go through this stage, and takes a lot of strength and patients
to succeed.

 

2.1.2. The Frustration Stage

 

 

For most people, moving abroad is an adventurous and exciting opportunity
and will initially trigger positive feelings. During the “honeymoon phase”,
the person will feel captivated and amused by the new culture surrounding them.
Whether parts of the new culture are similar or different from the person’s
home culture, they are intrigued and fascinated by it. It is common for the
person living abroad to feel motivated and energized during this stage, and
will want to make the best use of their time. That includes learning the
language, visiting local tourist sites, and meeting new people. Due to this excitement
and positive attitude, the person develops a feeling of invincibility and does
not foresee any future challenges or issues with adjusting to the new culture (Princeton
(ed.) 2017). There is often a sense of infatuation being felt for their new
surroundings, the new people, language, and food. They will not feel any regret
to the decision of moving to the new culture, and usually feel proud of their
decision (The 4 Stages of Culture Shock 2016). Someone in this stage has an
open mindset to the new surroundings, culture, and way of living. Although the
honeymoon stage is enjoyable, it is unrealistic for someone to stay in that
stage forever. Eventually, as the honeymoon stage comes to an end, the
“frustration stage” of culture shock begins.

 

2.1.1. Honeymoon Phase

2.1. The 4 Stages of Culture Shock

 

2. Analysis

The four predictable stages of experiencing culture shock include the
honeymoon phase, the frustration stage, the adjustment stage, and the
acceptance stage (Vollmuth; Bomhard 2009, p 10). Once someone moves to a foreign
country, the process begins with a rush of positive emotions towards the new
culture. During the stage called the “honeymoon phase”, all of the
different aspects of the new culture seem intriguing and interesting. The
negative aspects of this foreign culture are barely noticed. Subsequently, this
excitement wears off and the person now enters the stage called
“frustration stage”. This is when the negative aspects of the culture
become more prominent and noticeable to the person. Feelings of homesick,
sadness, and depression may begin to kick in during this stage. Although this is
the hardest stage of culture shock to get through, things take a turn for the
better once someone succeeds it. Next comes the adjustment stage, where someone
begins to learn the ways of the new culture and adapt to their surroundings. The
amount of time it will take to get through this stage can vary, but it
ultimately results in advancing to the acceptance stage. In this last stage the
person feels at ease and accepts their surroundings and the culture they are
living in. They accept the fact that they do not need to understand everything
about the culture, and that it will take time to learn some things. Although this
can be a tough process, in the end it is beneficial and promotes the person to
learn many new things about their self (The 4 Stages of Culture Shock 2016). International
students, who have moved abroad to study, can be considerably affected by
culture shock. This paper will discuss the different stages of culture shock that
someone may experience, and address the most effective ways to alleviate these symptoms.

Moving abroad can be a beneficial
experience, opening up the world to many amazing opportunities. It pushes
people out of their comfort zone, boosts confidence, and teaches many important
life lessons. Despite these benefits, there also comes some great challenges
with moving abroad. These challenges include, but are not limited to, feeling
lost, lonely, helpless, dependent, and sad. Culture Shock is defined as “the feeling of
disorientation experienced by someone when they are suddenly subjected to an
unfamiliar culture, way of life, or set of attitudes” (Oxford Dictionary (ed.)
2018). Everyone experiences culture shock in a different way, and takes a
different amount of time to go through the predictable stages of culture shock (Vollmuth;
Bomhard 2009, pp 9-10).

 

1. Introduction