4 Stages of Culture Shock

Honeymoon phase. The Honeymoon phase is the feeling that everything is new and exciting. It usually hasn’t hit you that you will be living, or staying in this country for an extended period. If you are taking a short trip, then you might not even leave the honeymoon phase! This is a great stage because you will be amazed and entranced by the new exotic culture. This stage lasts anywhere from a few weeks to three months depending on the individual.

Frustration. This is the phase where people generally feel the negative effects of culture shock. Similar to life, after the honeymoon phase wears off, things are not as exciting as they initially were.

This was the hardest stage for me, as it is for most people, because you become frustrated with all those things you found new and exciting in the Honeymoon phase.The differences between your own culture and the new culture become apparent and generally create anxiety. It usually hits people harder if they are in a country that speaks a different language. Much of my frustration came from the language barrier and not being able to communicate what I wanted or needed. This stage usually lasts about three months.

Adjustment. This when people have identified all the differences between their own culture and the new culture, and then accept those differences.  For me, this is when I started feeling at home in Alicante. I knew my way around and had begun to actually like the differences I found between Spain and the United States. People tend to adjust anywhere from six to twelve months.

Biculturalism. One can only hope to reach this phase because it takes awhile to reach it. Most people only reach this stage after living in the country for at least a year, and even then, some never adopt the other culture. Biculturalism is when you have become comfortable and mastered the new culture. You are at ease and can interact within society without hesitation. Some people will never feel completely comfortable in a new culture, no matter how long they are there. It takes a lot of understanding and open mindedness to fully adopt a new culture.

These are four general stages that people go through in culture shock. This being said, each person will go through these stages in their own way and on their own time. Please leave a comment to let me know about your personal experiences with culture shock!


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