Living abroad can be a rewarding experience, and opens 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). The four predictablestages of experiencing culture shock include the honeymoon phase, the frustrationstage, the adjustment stage, and the acceptance stage (Vollmuth; Bomhard 2009,p 10). Once someone moves to a foreign country, the process begins with a rushof positive emotions towards the new culture. During the stage called the”honeymoon phase”, all of the different aspects of the new cultureseem intriguing and interesting. The negative aspects of this foreign cultureare barely noticed. Subsequently, this excitement wears off and the person nowenters the stage called “frustration stage”.
This is when thenegative aspects of the culture become more prominent and noticeable to theperson. Feelings of homesick, sadness, and depression may begin to kick induring this stage. Although this is the hardest stage of culture shock to getthrough, things take a turn for the better once someone succeeds it. Next comesthe adjustment stage, where someone begins to learn the ways of the new cultureand adapt to their surroundings. The amount of time it will take to get throughthis stage can vary, but it ultimately results in leading to the acceptancestage. In this last stage the person feels at ease and accepts theirsurroundings and the culture they are living in.
It does not always mean thatthey understand everything, but they feel alright not understanding everything.Although this can be a tough process, in the end it is rewarding and teachessomeone many things about their self. International students, who have movedabroad to study, can be considerably affected by culture shock. This paper willdiscuss the different stages of culture shock that someone may experience, andaddress the most effective ways to alleviate these symptoms.