Those that entering the United States for the first time are bound to be aware that they are signing up for a completely novel experience. It is guaranteed that the things that are common to you in your home country will be quite different in the states.
Everyone experiences some time of culture shock when they enter a new setting, with variations in cuisine, language and the people. Culture shock is the most severe when you are unaware of the way things are in the new place you are entering, as well as being confused between what is and what isn’t acceptable.
Perhaps the hardest part of dealing with culture shock is that we are unsure of the ways in which we are affected. Some feel lonely whilst others feel irritated or sad, but all these reactions are normal for those who are experiencing new cultures. It is common for culture shock to settle within the a few weeks of arriving in the new environment.
Some of the most common ways to tell that you have culture shock is mild physical discomfort, irritability at little things, longing to return home, interrupted sleeping patterns, mood swings or behavioral changes, glorifying your home country, lacking the ability to solve problems and reduced confidence.
The Stages of Culture Shock
1st stage of culture shock- Honeymoon Stage
The initial stage of culture shock is often one of an elevated mood due to the understanding that a new experience is about to be embarked on. This is often considered the “honeymoon stage” since all things are exciting and fresh.
2nd stage of culture shock- Frustration Stage
After the initial stage it is common to feel detached from your regular self and to be upset or bothered by little every day problems. Emotions can run high during this stage and this is often the most troubling stage during culture shock.
3th stage of culture shock- Recovering stage
After recovering from the emotional distress of culture shock many start to feel more at home in the United States, due to feeling more familiarized and able to enjoy daily life. Reverse culture shock occurs when one returns back home and realizes that life is not the same as when they left.
Despite the uncomfortable feelings that come from culture shock, at the end of the day it offers a great opportunity to learn more and to develop different perspectives. Going through culture shock can often teach one more about themselves as well.