Culture shock can be described as a big change when you go to a different country or place other than your country or place of origin. The process of culture shock is developed in five different stages. The first stage is called “Honeymoon” during which you are excited to know new people and a new experience you have not yet lived in your life. After this one you have passedthrough good moments and you start to feel rejected by the other people who are around you; this stage is called “Rejection phase”. The third stage is when you go backwards, such as to speak your own language, eat home food, and things that remind your country. Then we can find “Recovery phase” where you feel more comfortable with the customs and the environment. Finally you may have a shock againwhen you go back to your own country after living a long time in a different culture. This stage is called “Reverse culture shock.”
A cultural shock has symptoms that can appear at different times. These symptoms can be showed in any moment of the shock. Some symptoms are sadness, loneliness, loss of identity, lack of confidence, etc. Furthermore there are strategies that can help you to overcomethese entire situations such as developing a hobby, learning to be constructive, maintaining contact with your group, etc. Another important aspect to be aware of is the factors that contribute to the duration and effects of the culture shock. Some of these are previous experiences, socio-economic conditions, familiarity with the language, family and social support, and level education.
Oneexperience that I had with culture shock was in Canada last year. It was a big shock for me because it was my first time in another country. Therefore, aspects such as the language, food, and people’s behaviour impacted me very strongly.
The first day in Canada, I felt really weird. I remember that I was really excited and curious of having that experience, but at the same time I was afraid andnervous. It was very hard because I had to live away from my family and Colombia, which mean a lot to me.
I passed through the first stage (Honeymoon) during the first week because I knew a new place and people. However, it had an ending very early when I started to feel rejected by many people, which made me feel uncomfortable. In those moments, I felt lonely, sad and frustrated. Therefore, I knew thatI was in the rejection phase. The most important fact that helped me to feel better were the other Latin people because they were the people who were there in any situation when I needed them. Therefore, at this point of my experience in a foreign country I experienced the third stage called “regression” because I started to hang out so much time with people who spoke Spanish. Also, I could talkto them about similar things from our countries, which make me feel like I was at home.
After a long time of having this experience, came the day to go back to Colombia. I can describe this day as something that I had desired for a long time, but at the moment it came it was a bittersweet moment. Anyway this day was unexpected because I was supposed to travel twenty-two days later. Also it was along day, which finished when I saw the Colombian airport, and then my great family, which was waiting for me. I felt so much happiness and peace inside of me when they were in front of me. However, I never felt a return of cultural shock. Therefore I felt as if I had never gone away from my home or Colombia either.
I think some strategies that helped me cope with culture shock were to be moreopen minded, to understand how the Canadian life was, to try to be in contact with the people there, and to have more confidence in myself. Thanks to this, I could develop the abilities to succeed in a new environment which I had never lived in all my life.
I am not the only person who has had these kinds of experiences. I interviewed two people about their experience in a different country....