The 4 stages of culture shock and how to deal with it
Doing your internship abroad can be an exhilarating experience. Most people experience different stages of feelings after leaving their home culture. This so-called culture shock has 4 stages. This report will outline the different phases and give recommendations on how to deal with it.
During this time everything is great, exciting and new. You will experience the differences, meet new people, taste new foods and visit some sights. The trip seems like the greatest decision ever made. This phase can last days, weeks or month. On short trips or internships, this phase might be the only one.
Rejection Phase/ Culture Shock
The realities can become overwhelming. Differences are noticed but not in a good way. Besides that, you start missing things from back home such as the food. You are tired of not understanding signs, gestures or the language. You start to appreciate things at home and feel sad, angry or confused. It is normal to feel a bit homesick or depressed when staying a long time abroad.
You meet new people and begin to feel more familiar and comfortable with the culture. You have a more positive feeling and get comfortable with the food, people and the language.
Reverse Culture Shock
As soon as you arrive back home, you will have to get used to the culture back home again. Once you have been accustomed by the way things are done in another country, you can go through the same series of the culture shock again.
How can I deal with it?
- Learn about your new location or country before you go. Inform yourself about the climate, time zone, foods, political system etc.
- It is beneficial to keep open-minded. You could for instance learn a few words in the native language.
- Try to avoid comparisons with your home country.
- Travel within your new country. Experience the variety of landscapes and sights. Attend cultural events or festivals and perhaps visit museums. It is a once in a life time experience and you should enjoy it! It will also make you appreciate your new home country.
- Meet the right kind of people abroad and build new friendships. With right kind of people, we mean positive-minded people. It helps to share your feelings with somebody. Besides that, loneliness can kill!
- Keep in touch with friends and family from back home. It makes you feel more comfortable and helps to minimize your reverse culture shock.
Don’t be scared! Keep in mind that it is normal to experience a culture shock when living abroad! We hope that we could help you to understand your feelings and how to overcome the shock. As always, we wish you all the best for your future!
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