Culture shock is experienced in 5 stages:
1. The Honeymoon/ Rose-Colored Glasses Stage: You step off the plane and can't wait to immerse yourself in this new place. You're eager to try the new food, ride on a crowded train or bus, anything that is something different to what you're used to. You're a full-blown romantic. Unfortunately, this feeling doesn't last forever. It usually fades away anywhere between a few days to a few weeks.
2. The Frustration/ Annoyance Phase: Well, the honeymoon is over, and all those little things you didn't noticed before- you do now. You do not understand why people act or look a certain way. Their manners disgust you. Their pace at work infuriates you. You wonder why they put so much focus on specific aspects of their life while completely ignoring other important aspects? You find yourself knowing exactly how to fix every problem here, but are just not apt to do so. Differences between your home culture and this place are so profound, you find yourself experiencing a variety of emotions from:
- being uncomfortable
- feeling scared
3. The Adjustment Phase: This is probably the most important phase. (In tomorrow's article, tips on how to conquer this phase will be discussed.) The adjustment phase is the phase where you gradually become accustomed to this new way of life. However, it is important to note, you must be proactive in this stage. It is your choice to succumb to negativity or to rise above it. This is the time you regain your sense of perspective on how life really is. You begin to see things more objectively.
4. Adaption/ You Mastered This Phase: All the sudden you find yourself able to navigate the markets, negotiate with the local cabbies, and be a fantastic guest over at your host family's dinner. Basically you are fully comfortable and able to participate in all aspects of the culture. This doesn't mean that you will be viewed as an insider to the culture. You probably still have an accent, dress differently, and carry other traits from your home culture, but you have become a bicultural person.
5. Reversal Culture Shock: Now this doesn't happen to everyone, but in some cases when people have spent a long time abroad and fallen in love with their second home, returning home can be just as shocking. Readjusting to their home culture can have psychological consequences. You might not understand your own family life, friendships, work ethic, values, or even how consumption of resources occurs. You might not find the 'Home, Sweet Home,' you imagined. Once again, you'll have to deal with readjustments, but this time it might be harder.