Resources: Notes on Life and Language in the United States

The 6 Stages of Culture Shock

Posted by Lindsay McMahon on Tue, Aug 23, 2011 @ 10:46 AM

stages of culture shock, woman with coffeeWhat are the 6 stages of culture shock and how do they affect you, as an international professional or student in Boston or in another part of the United States?

In recent years, researchers have come up with different theories about how people adjust to new cultures.

The experience is different for everyone, depending on your language ability, previous experience in the culture and your adaptability to new places and situations.

However, we know that everyone undergoes a transition and each transition presents its own challenges.  In order to make this transition as smooth as possible, it is good to know what to expect when you move to a new country.

In today's article, I will introduce you to one common theory about the six stages of cultural adjustment. Have you had a similar culture shock experience?

 

"Everyone experiences culture shock differently."

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The 6 Stages of Culture Shock:


 stages of culture shock, cement steps1. Preliminary Stage: You have made the decision to move abroad. You are busy making plans. You are anticipating your life in your new country. You are excited and you can't wait to start your adventure.

 

2. Spectator Stage: Also known as the "honeymoon" stage. You have just arrived in your new country and you are fascinated with the foreign and exotic aspects of your new life.

 

 

3. Participation Stage: The honeymoon comes to an end and it's time to learn the language, function within the culture and deal with everyday challenges.

 

4. Shock Stage: Feelings of lethargy, irritability and loneliness are common at this stage. Negative feelings are triggered by the difficulty of daily life and everyday tasks.

 

5. Adjustment Stage: You begin to form relationships with local people. You start to feel like you belong in the new country and that you are accepted. You start to identify with the new culture.

 

6. Re-entry Stage: The transition back to your old life may not be as easy as you expect. Reverse culture shock often sets in when you return home and experience a sense of disorientation and discomfort.

 

 

What is your experience with culture shock?

 

Remember, everyone experiences culture shock differently. Some people don't go through all the stages and some people progress in a different way through the stages. Did you go through the stages mentioned above or did you have a different experience? Please leave a comment below!

 

 

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Source: Klopf, D.W. Intercultural Encounters as cited in (2007) Moran, H. Managing cultural differences: Global leadership strategies for the 21st century.
photo credit: judepics

Topics: Life in New York, Life in Boston, Cultural Competence, Cross Cultural Coaching

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