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Understanding Stages of Culture Shock

   

Understanding

Stages of

Culture

Shock

 
     

Culture Shock is a very real phenomenon that affects most people when they experience a culture that is different from their own or from what they are used to when they visit or live in another country for an extended period. Culture shock is a “normal” reaction, and every person experiences culture shock to a different degree. Understanding culture shock is not only important for students on an educational exchange or study tour, but also can help Canadian educators and students understand the culture shock challenges that international students may be coping with while studying in Canada; empathy is a key to helping students deal successfully with culture shock. Read more at: www.participate.com/mktg/the-4-stages-of-culture-shock

Stages of Culture Shock:

  1. Honeymoon (up to 2 months) — everything in the new country seems fresh, positive and exciting.
  2. Culture Shock (from 3-8 months) — this is the “difficult” phase, and often involves a sense of frustration, mood swings, irritability, negativity, homesickness, anger, and sometimes regret for leaving home.
  3. Adjustment (from 8-12 months) — this is a time when things improve and a person starts to “negotiate” a better understanding of the new culture and how to adapt.
  4. Acceptance (12+ months) — this phase involves the person being comfortable within the new culture.

    For some, an additional phase may involve what is known as Reverse Culture Shock. Upon returning home following a lengthy stay abroad, individuals may repeat the whole culture shock cycle upon “re-entry” and have difficulty readjusting to living back in their home culture.


Experiencing life abroad as an international student is not always easy, but the vast majority find studying overseas to be a rewarding learning experience that makes one a more independent person with a better awareness of one’s own culture and of other cultures.

Culture Shock on You Tube

  • Studying Abroad: Culture Shock
    Five students from five continents speak about the challenges they faced and how they gradually overcame culture shock.
  • Culture Shock
    Interview with a large number of Canadian university students who participated in international exchange programs around the world discuss the challenges they faced and offer practical solutions to overcoming culture shock.
  • We Survived Culture Shock; Here’s how you can too
    Several international exchange students explain the stages of culture shock and provide ways of adapting to find a “new normal.”
  • Dealing with Culture Shock
    A one-on-one discussion with a Canadian student who studied in India and focuses on “reverse” culture shock.
  • Why We Need to Embrace Culture Shock
    A TEDx talk that discusses culture shock from a fairly academic point of view.
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