What you can do

There are many different formal models for culture shock but all agree it is a defined process with predictable and manageable stages. Read through the table and refer to it again when you feel confused. Consider the strategies as advice from those who have gone before.

CULTURE SHOCK STAGES AND COPING STRATEGIES

Stage

Signs

Strategies

 

1
Honeymoon


lasts from two to eight weeks,
you might even miss it

  • new experiences are exciting
  • you feel fortunate for having the opportunity of moving overseas.
  • people are friendly and you smile a lot, you're in control
  • your own sense of culture is not threatened
  • be a tourist
  • send postcards home while you're feeling so positive
  • book a holiday six months ahead for you to look forward to.
  • make contacts through clubs and associations, sign up for some activities
  • join a language course

 

2
Disintegration

lasts two or three months

  • daily frustrations can build into disillusionment
  • the good things of home loom large
  • discussions with other expats reinforce the difficulties of the new culture
  • self-doubt and depression may set in
  • look after yourself, treat yourself to a massage, exercise, avoid alcohol and over-eating

  • keep a journal

  • get out and be with people

  • continue language practice

  • keep busy

  • set daily goals and make the effort to achieve them.

  • list the goals you had for you time overseas and get started

 

3
Reintegration


usually 3rd to 6th month

  • a sense of standing up to the things and people that are frustrating you
  • racial generalisations and a rejection of host culture
  • determination to work things out and get things done
  • build your network of friends

  • take that holiday you booked

  • continue language study

  • spend time with people who enjoy being there

  • keep corresponding to people back home

 

4
Becoming
Functional


around 6 months after arrival

  • feeling in control and positive again about being where you are

  • self-understanding and more tolerance of others

  • a sense of comfort operating in the host culture

  • you're helping others get through their adjustments

  • try new things and explore the culture

  • practice the language

  • buy some local home furnishings

  • do the things you intended to do while in this country before it's time to leave

 

5
Creative
Independence

around 9 months after arrival

  • you are generally successful in communications with locals

  • enjoying being where you are

  • adept at finding things

  • no longer stereotyping

  • understanding local customs

  • either prepare for moving or review your lifestyle for areas that need improving

  • if leaving, tie up any loose ends and farewell people properly

  • maintain key relationships