|Choque Culturalen Espanol|
[ What is it? | Symptoms | Stages | How to Fight It | Questions ]
The term, culture shock, was introduced for the first time in 1958 to describe the anxiety produced when a person moves to a completely new environment. This term expresses the lack of direction, the feeling of not knowing what to do or how to do things in a new environment, and not knowing what is appropriate or inappropriate. The feeling of culture shock generally sets in after the first few weeks of coming to a new place.
We can describe culture shock as the physical and emotional discomfort one suffers when coming to live in another country or a place different from the place of origin. Often, the way that we lived before is not accepted as or considered as normal in the new place. Everything is different, for example, not speaking the language, no knowing how to use banking machines, not knowing how to use the telephone and so forth.
The symptoms of cultural shock can appear at different times. Although, one can experience real pain from culture shock; it is also an opportunity for redefining one's life objectives. It is a great opportunity for learning and acquiring new perspectives. Culture shock can make one develop a better understanding of oneself and stimulate personal creativity.
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Culture Shock has many stages. Each stage can be ongoing or appear only at certain times. The first stage is the incubation stage; the new arrival may feel euphoric and be please by all of the new things encountered. This time it is called the "honeymoon" stage, as everything encountered is new and exciting.
Afterward, the second stage presents itself. A person may encounter some difficult times and crisis in daily life. For example, communication difficulties may occur such as not being understood. In this stage, there may be feelings discontent, impatience, anger, sadness, and feeling incompetence. This happens when a person is trying to adapt to a new culture that is very different from the culture of origin. Transition between the old methods and those of the new country is a difficult process and takes time to complete. During the transition, there can be strong feelings of dissatisfaction.
The third stage is characterized by gaining some understanding of the new culture. A new feeling of pleasure and sense of humor may be experienced. One may start to feel a certain psychological balance. The new arrival may not feel as lost and starts to have a feeling of direction. The individual is more familiar with the environment and wants to belong. This initiates and evaluation of the old ways versus those of the new.
In the fourth stage, the person realizes that the new culture has good and bad things to offer. This stage can be one of double integration or triple integration depending on the number of cultures that the person has to process. This integration is accompanied by a more solid feeling of belonging. The person starts to define him/herself and establish goals for living.
The fifth stage is the stage that is called the "re-entry shock." This occurs when a return to the country of origin is made. One may find that things are no longer the same. For example, some of the newly acquired customs are not in use in the old culture.
These stages are present at different times and each person has their own way of reacting in the stages of culture shock. As a consequence, some stages will be longer and more difficult than others. Many factors contribute to the duration and effects of culture shock. For example, the individual's state of mental health, type of personality, previous experiences, socio-economic conditions, familiarity with the language, family and/or social support systems, and level of education.
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The majority of individuals and families that emigrate from other countries have the ability to positively confront the obstacles of a new environment. Some ways to combat stress produced by culture shock are:
It is recommended that all programs participants prepare for their trip abroad by reading "Culture Shock a Guide to Customs and Etiquette, " by Alessandro Falassi and Raymond Flower. There is a "Culture Shock" book dedicated to the country you will be visiting.
Students: For this group of questions, please fill in the blank to complete the question where necessary.
Why do the local people do _____________________________?
What does it mean when the locals do _____________________________?
Do many of the local people speak English?
Have many of the local people been to the United States?
How can I tell if I have offended a local?
A local person cursed at me (I think), what should I do in that kind of situation?
Why don't the local people seem very friendly towards me?
What should I expect from the local culture?
Dept. of Counseling and