When you go abroad, you’re going to experience new everything - from cultures and languages, to people, food and even sounds. This is especially the case if you are leaving home for the first time, or even getting on a plane for the first time! All of this newness, combined with the lack of familiarity may cause you to experience anxiety. This type of anxiety is called cultural shock, and is something almost everyone who leaves their 'comfort zone' will experience to some degree.
Culture shock can take place over four stages. Once you become familiar with the stages you will be better able to combat it.
Think of the first stage of cultural shock as the honeymoon stage. Much like the honeymoon phase in a relationship, you're typically very happy and positive because you're experiencing something brand new. This occurs in the first few days of you arriving in your host country.
Symptoms of honeymoon stage:
During the honeymoon stage you will be poised to take on the challenges of living broad.
After the honeymoon stage your initial excitement may wane. You also may start to feel frustration or anxiety, hence the onset of this stage. Anxiety can occur for various reasons.
Symptoms of the anxiety stage:
Tips for dealing with the anxiety stage:
The adjustment stage occurs when you develop a more balanced and understanding view of your experience abroad.
Characteristics of the adjustment stage:
During the acceptance stage, you will begin to accept and appreciate the host environment for what it is, and you may even begin to feel like you belong.
Characteristics of the acceptance stage:
Once you reach acceptance, you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that you can live successfully in two cultures. This is a huge milestone, and something to be proud of!
“I wanted to study Arabic in order to connect with my family, history, religion, and culture. I previously lived and worked in an Arabic-speaking country and wanted to learn Arabic more formally in order to maintain personal and professional...”
American Councils for International Education