Abstract

Every culture is a micro universe that strengthens solidarity between people and promotes understanding. We all depend on our habits and living conditions and our well-being depends of course on where we are, who and what is around us. When a person gets into an unfamiliar environment, and it turns out, distant from his usual way of life, the environment, his psyche suffers shock. Culture shock triggers a conflict of old and new cultural norms, and is at the level of consciousness. The contact with a foreign culture can result in the new artistic creations, social and material values, actions of people who depend on world view, values, ideas, norms and conventions, ways of thinking typical for some other culture. The most common symptoms include the following: you want to go home all the time; nothing seems funny to you; there is constantly an immoderate desire and need for food, or vice versa poor appetite; there is a desire to spend all the days in the bed and don’t go out; absent-mindedness, and etc. There are several most widespread stages of culture shock: honeymoon, anxiety and hostility, final addictive and a biculturual one. The main cause of culture shock is the difference of cultures. Every culture has a set of symbols and images, as well as behavioral traditions through which a person can automatically act in different situations. When a person is in a new culture, a familiar orientation system is inadequate because it is based on other views of the world, other norms and values, behavior and perception. 

Table of contents

  1. Introduction
  2. The notion of culture shock
  3. The main causes and reasons of culture shock
  4. The symptoms of culture shock
  5. Stages of culture shock
  6. Conclusion
  7. References

Culture Shock

Every culture is a micro universe that strengthens solidarity between people and promotes understanding. We all depend on our habits and living conditions. Our well-being depends of course on where we are, who and what is around us. Speaking of the modern world, it is necessary to draw attention to the fact that each day there is an interaction between different cultures, religions, ethnic groups. So, intercultural communication really study the problems is. In order to establish contact with other cultures it is not enough to have knowledge of one language or knowledge of the language of the country where the visitor is going to leave in, you need an understanding of the world, national character, religion and mentality representatives of this particular culture.

When a person gets into an unfamiliar environment, and it turns out to be distant from his usual way of life, they suffer shock. Culture shock triggers a conflict of old and new cultural norms, and is at the level of consciousness. Culture shock occurs when the familiar psychological factors that help a person adapt to society, disappear, and instead there are unknown and incomprehensible factors coming from a different cultural environment. This experience of a new culture is an embarrassment. The person wants to be a part of the culture.. However, being a visitor in a different culture, s/he feels lonely.

People have different experiences of culture shock and differently recognize severity of its effects. It depends on their individual psychological characteristics and the degree of similarity or dissimilarity of the cultures. This may include a number of factors such as climate, clothing, food, language, religion, education, material well-being, family structure, customs, etc. Exploring the causes of culture shock, we stopped on the identification of psychological and psycholinguistic properties of the individual.

When a person gets into an unfamiliar environment, and is cut off from their familiar environment, mind usually suffers a shock. Cultural values are generated based on the selection of certain types of behavior and experiences. Every society has implemented a selection of cultural forms. Each society creates huge cultural superstructure, which covers the entire life of the individual.. When scientists talk about culture shock as a phenomenon, it is peculiar for all the feelings and sensations people experience as a change compared to the usual conditions. Such feelings are experienced when a child moves from one school to another, when we change an apartment or a job, or when we move from one city to another. It is clear that if you move to another country, the culture shock will be a hundred times stronger. This is true for all immigrants, from wherever they moved, regardless of age, gender, occupation and level of education.

The contact with a foreign culture can result in the new artistic creations, social and material values, actions of people who depend on world view, values, ideas, norms and conventions, ways of thinking typical for some other culture. Such meetings usually enrich people, but often contact with a different culture leads to problems and conflicts caused by lack of understanding of the culture.

Cultural shock also causes mental health problems, and partially mental distress. The term "culture shock" was first introduced by American researcher Kalervo Oberg in 1954, he noted that when entering a new culture people usually experience some unpleasant sensations (Chieh-Wen, 2005). Today it is considered that the experience of a new culture is an unpleasant or shocking, because it can lead to negative evaluation of your own culture. The mechanism of development of a culture shock for the first time was described in detail by Oberg, who argued that people pass through certain stages of the experience of culture shock and gradually reach a satisfactory level of adaptation.

When a person gets into an unfamiliar environment, and is cut off from familiar surroundings, her/his mind usually suffers shock. He or she is like a fish out of water. No matter how friendly and educated you are. Culture shock usually causes anxiety, confusion and frustration. Culture shock is a specific feeling of discomfort and disorientation and this is a natural response to an entirely new situation.

The most common symptoms include the following:

1)      You want to go home all the time;

2)       Nothing seems funny to you;

3)      There is constantly an immoderate desire and need for food, or vice versa poor appetite;

4)      There is a desire to spend all the days in the bed and don’t go out.

5)      Absent-mindedness;

6)      Such emotions and feelings as helplessness, aggression, anxiety, and etc (Winkelman, 1994).

There are known several types of cultural shock, such as stress due to the efforts made to achieve the psychological adjustment; a sense of loss because of deprivation of friends; loneliness (rejection) in a new culture, which can be transformed into a state of denial culture of violation of role expectations and self-identity; anxiety turning into anger and disgust after the awareness of cultural differences; feelings of inferiority due to the inability to cope with all the difficulties.

The main cause of culture shock is the difference of cultures. Every culture has developed a set of symbols and images, patterns of behavior, by which a person can automatically act in different situations. When a person is in a new culture, familiar orientation systems are inadequate because they are based on other views of the world, other norms and values, behavior and perception.

State of culture shock is directly related to the process of communication. Each person perceives the ability to communicate as a very crucial factor in life. It only becomes properly valued by the person when they appear in the environment with completely unfamiliar language. Failure of communication usually causes people heartache and disappointment. However, in this state, a person is aware that the source of frustration is his own inability to adequately perform communication. It is not only dependent on the knowledge of the language, but also the ability to interpret cultural information of a particular cultural environment, the psychological compatibility with different culture media, and the ability to understand and accept their values.

Range of symptoms of culture shock is very wide from mild to severe emotional stress disorders, psychosis, and the side-effects are alcoholism and suicide. In practice, it is often over-expressed in the care of cleanliness of dishes, laundry, water quality, and in psychosomatic disorders, generalized anxiety, insomnia, fear. A particular kind of culture shock can be from a few months to several years depending on the individual.

Modern researchers view culture shock as part of the process of adaptation to the new conditions. Moreover, in this process, not only a person acquires knowledge about a new culture and norms of behavior in it, but it also helps the person become more culturally developed.  Therefore, since the early 1990s professionals prefer to call this notion not a culture shock, but the stress of acculturation (Junzi, 2009).

The influence of culture shock on people varies (Junzi, 2009). It is not often, but there are those who cannot live in a foreign country. However, those who have met people with the culture shock who later adapted, can see the process. In order to ease the culture shock or shorten its duration, it is recommended to realize that this phenomenon exists and that you somehow have to face it. But the important thing to remember is that you can cope with it and it will not last forever.

The process when a person enters different culture is dependent on several factors. These factors include individual differences - personal and demographic (Winkelman, 1994). According to foreign sources, sociable people extroverted type, non-authoritarian, highly intelligent, confident, ready for a change, and professionally competent face the least difficulties in getting into a different cultural environment. It is also much easier to adapt for young people with a good education. The process of adaptation is also significantly affected by the presence of previous experience abroad, as well as language and cultural features of the country. One of the most important factors to adapt to a different cultural environment is to establish contacts with the local population, as well as friendly policies pursued by the state in relation to immigrants.

There are several most widespread stages of culture shock.

1)

Phase I. "Honeymoon". Most people begin their life abroad with a positive attitude, even with euphoria. All that is new is exotic and attractive (Junzi, 2009). During the first few weeks, most enchanted new. On the honeymoon stage one notices the most obvious differences such as differences in language, climate, architecture, cuisine, geography, etc. This is the specific differences and they are easy to evaluate. The fact that they are vivid and visible makes them harmless. You can see and evaluate, thus can adapt to them. People are staying at the hotel, and communicate with those who speak their language, who are polite and friendly to foreigners. This honeymoon can last from a few days or weeks to 6 months, depending on the circumstances. But this state of mind is usually short-lived, if the "visitor" decides to stay and meet with the actual conditions of life in the country.

2)

Then begins the second stage, characterized by hostility and violence against the 'receiving' side. Phase II. Anxiety and hostility (Junzi, 2009). Just like in a marriage, the honeymoon does not last forever. After a few weeks or months a person is aware of problems with communication either at work, in the store or at home. There are problems with housing, transportation, problems with the "shopping" and the fact that others are most indifferent to them (Winkelman, 1994). They help, but do not understand your great dependence on these issues. So they are apparently indifferent and callous towards you and your anxieties. But at the stage of alienation you get under the influence and not so obvious differences. Strangers are not only tangible, "gross" aspects of you, but the relationships between people, decision-making methods and ways to express their feelings and emotions. These differences create much more difficulties and cause most of the misunderstandings and disappointments, after which you feel the stress and inconvenience. Many of the usual things do not exist. Suddenly all the differences begin to look exaggerated. A person realizes that these differences will not let him\her live for a couple of days, months or years. Begins the crisis stage called "culture shock”. According to studies, culture shock has a direct impact on our mental and even physical condition.  

3)

Phase III. Final addictive (Junzi, 2009). If the visitor is successful in acquiring some knowledge of the language and begins to move independently, it starts to open the way to a new social environment. Newcomers are still experiencing difficulties, but they learn how to cope with them. Usually at this stage, visitors get a sense of superiority in relation to the inhabitants of the country. Their sense of humor reveals itself and now they are on the road to recovery.   After reaching this stage, sometimes there are days when you will return to the previous stage. It is important to realize that all of these different experiences are natural components of the adaptation to the new environment.

4)

Phase IV and the latter "A biculturual one". This last phase is a person's ability to safely "operate" and to  receipt (Sobre & Dan, 2007). He really comes into contact with a new culture, not superficial and artificial, not as a tourist, but deeply, and covering it. Only with the complete grasp of all signs of social relations, these elements will go. For a long time, people will understand that native says, but do not always understand what he meant. He will begin to understand and appreciate local customs and traditions, even to adopt some "codes of conduct" and generally feel "like a fish in water" as with the natives, and with their own (Zhou, Jindal-Snape, Topping & Todman, 2008).

 The lucky ones got to this stage, enjoy all the benefits of civilization, have a wide circle of friends, it is easy to settle their official and personal affairs, both have lost their sense of dignity and pride in their origins. When they go home on leave, can take things with you. And if they go to the good, they usually miss the country and people are accustomed to. It turns out that people like to adapt a split have your own home is bad, but a way of life and a different, strange, but good.

The main cause of culture shock is the difference of cultures. Every culture has a set of symbols and images, as well as behavioral, through which a person can automatically act in different situations. When a person is in a new culture, a familiar orientation system is inadequate because it is based on other views of the world, other norms and values, behavioral and perception. 

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