Stages of Cultural Shock

I am very sorry I’ve been absent for such a long time.

I thought that on my trip to Thailand it would have been easy to post, but of course that when you are travelling, every day is so tiresome that in the end you have no energy to write. Lesson learned.

And finally, when I came back to India, I found myself a bit irritated and uninspired, therefore I didn’t feel like writing at all.¬†Eventually I realized that I was going through one of the phases of cultural shock. Now that those days are over and I’m all happy again, I feel like I should address the situation properly.

Stages of Cultural Shock

Whenever you move to a new country, there are 4 main stages that a person could go through. Some people go through all of them, some do not, some experience 2 stages at the same time, and the stages might last longer according to the person.

stages of cultural shock

stages of cultural shock

Honeymoon: This is a great phase. It’s the excitement about the new country, where everything is new and fascinating. It’s called “honeymoon” because like the original context of the word, this stage eventually ends.

Crisis: Eventually, the differences between your home country and the new country will become very apparent. Some negative events may lead into frustration and anger towards the new culture, and at moments you may find it offensive. You may feel lonely and/or homesick, and communication barriers will frustrate you.

Recovery: After a few months, you get used to the new culture and new routine, you learn what to expect and how to behave in different situations. You learn how to handle cultural issues and accept the new culture.

Adjustment: In this stage, you are adjusted and become fully capable of participating in the new culture.

Finally, when you go back to your country, you experience all of these stages again. Surprisingly or not, the cultural shock you experience when going back home might be as strong or even worse than the one you experience when moving to a new country. The graph below explains in details all the phases, and it’s specially interesting regarding the re-entry cultural shock.

stages of cultural shock

stages of cultural shock

As my own cultural shock experience, apart from the past few weeks, I usually experience many stages at the same time, with moments of frustration mixed with moments of fascination and euphoria. To be very honest, item number 7 scares me to death, which is one of the reasons why I gave up on the idea of going back permanently.

In all cases, the best advice I can give is self-awareness and self observation. Identifying that you’re going through one of these stages is the best way to deal with the situation and find ways to adapt to the new culture.

Share your wonders: