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As we know, culture shock is described as someone’s feelings while experiencing after leaving their home country, culture and their family to live in another country, social environment which caused it for different reasons. Even the most open-minded people and travelers are not resistant to culture shock. Living abroad is not just an exciting experience, but also a way to expand worldview, increase cultural curiosity and support willingness to explore unfamiliar environments. It may be sometimes a source of the feeling of being lost.
Despite culture shock can take weeks even months to progress, it is the most common phenomenon especially among travelers and people living far from their homes. Culture shock is more than what it sounds like. It mostly tends to affect individual even after he/she has got to know new culture and surrounding.
There are 4 steps of Culture shock: Honeymoon, frustration, adjustment, and acceptance.
1) At Honeymoon stage, people usually experience emotions such as joy, excitement, euphoria, and anticipation for the first few days or weeks while being in the new environment. The person tries to identify similarities and differences between the new culture and home culture. First days individual will have a thought as he/she will be able to handle everything and there won’t be any problem related to adjusting.
2) At Frustration stage, people mostly get exhausted of not understanding gestures, signs and the language of the host culture, which can conclude as miscommunication and misunderstanding. Small things such as missing the right bus or not being able easily order the meal in a restaurant may cause frustration to grow. For some people, frustration is the most challenging stage of culture shock and at the same time, it is a normal reaction of every person who spends extended time in the new country.
3) At Adjustment stage, people become more familiar with the host country, comfortable with culture and people. People will feel likely homesick and make friends which really on support, which make you handle the situation better than previous frustration.
4) Acceptance stage is the final stage of culture shock after weeks, months and years struggling with emotional stages. The feeling anxiety will fade away, however, acceptance doesn’t mean that new cultures are completely understood, on the contrary person realizes that fully understanding isn’t necessary to make your surroundings feel like your home. During this stage, individuals become more accustomed to each part of the new culture, also its logic and values. Since it is the last stage, they will be able to laugh at their mistakes, even the things annoyed them at the time when they arrived first.
In my point of view, culture shock is the period of the feelings of confusion and ambiguity that is mostly come across when you meet with a culture that has a plenty of differences compared to your home. Foreign students, immigrants, and refugees are the ones who often suffer from culture shock. Even students living in their home country experience culture shock especially when they move from high school environment to college environment. For example, I clearly remember the day when I first came to Poland as a bachelor degree student. Since it was the first time I was abroad without my family, I felt desperate. The new culture, faces, and language of this country scared me so much. I remember I couldn’t able to stay without crying every single night. But one day, I realized something started to change, and I became more adapted to that new culture. Now, it has already been 4 months from that day and I am in my hometown for the winter holiday, however, I am looking forward to going back to Poland.