If you are moving here, READ THIS!
I found this on the Internet - it was written by Dr. Carmen Guanipa of the Department of Couneling and School Psychology at San Diego State University. I have been here six weeks, and it describes exactly what I and others have gone through.
The term, culture shock, was introduced for the first time in 1958 to describe the anxiety produced when a person moves to a completely new environment. This term expresses the lack of direction, the feeling of not knowing what to do or how to do things in a new environment, and not knowing what is appropriate or inappropriate. The feeling of culture shock generally sets in after the first few weeks of coming to a new place.
We can describe culture shock as the physical and emotional discomfort one suffers when coming to live in another country or a place different from the place of origin. Often, the way that we lived before is not accepted as or considered as normal in the new place. Everything is different, for example, not speaking the language, not knowing how to use banking machines, not knowing how to use the telephone and so forth.
The symptoms of cultural shock can appear at different times. Although, one can experience real pain from culture shock; it is also an opportunity for redefining one's life objectives. It is a great opportunity for leaning and acquiring new perspectives. Culture shock can make one develop a better understanding of oneself and stimulate personal creativity.
* Sadness, loneliness, melancholy
* Preoccupation with health
* Aches, pains, and allergies
* Insomnia, desire to sleep too much or too little
* Changes in temperament, depression, feeling vulnerable, feeling powerless
* Anger, irritability, resentment, unwillingness to interact with others
* Identifying with the old culture or idealizing the old country
* Loss of identity
* Trying too hard to absorb everything in the new culture or country
* Unable to solve simple problems
* Lack of confidence
* Feelings of inadequacy or insecurity
* Developing stereotypes about the new culture
* Developing obsessions such as over-cleanliness
* Longing for family
* Feelings of being lost, overlooked, exploited or abused
Stages of Culture Shock
Culture shock has many stages. Each stage can be ongoing or appear only at certain times. The first stage is the incubation stage. In this first stage, the new arrival may feel euphoric and be pleased by all of the new things encountered. This time is called the "honeymoon" stage, as everything encountered is new and exciting.
Afterwards, the second stage presents itself. A person may encounter some difficult times and crises in daily life. For example, communication difficulties may occur such as not being understood. In this stage, there may be feelings of discontent, impatience, anger, sadness, and feeling incompetence. This happens when a person is trying to adapt to a new culture that is very different from the culture of origin. Transition between the old methods and those of the new country is a difficult process and takes time to complete. During the transition, there can be strong feelings of dissatisfaction.
The third stage is characterized by gaining some understanding of the new culture. A new feeling of pleasure and sense of humor may be experienced. One may start to feel a certain psychological balance. The new arrival may not feel as lost and starts to have a feeling of direction. The individual is more familiar with the environment and wants to belong. This initiates an evaluation of the old ways versus those of the new.
In the fourth stage, the person realizes that the new culture has good and bad things to offer. This stage can be one of double integration or triple integration depending on the number of cultures that the person has to process. This integration is accompanied by a more solid feeling of belonging. The person starts to define him/herself and establish goals for living.
The fifth stage is the stage that is called the "re-entry shock." This occurs when a return to the country of origin is made. One may find that things are no longer the same. For example, some of the newly acquired customs are not in use in the old culture.
These stages are present at different times and each person has their own way of reacting in the stages of culture shock. As a consequence, some stages will be longer and more difficult than others. Many factors contribute to the duration and effects of culture shock. For example, the individual's state of mental health, type of personality, previous experiences, socio-economic conditions, familiarity with the language, family and/or social support systems, and level of education.
How to Fight Culture Shock
The majority of individuals and families that immigrate from other countries have the ability to positively confront the obstacles of a new environment. Some ways to combat stress produced by culture shock are:
* Develop a hobby
* Don't forget the good things you already have!
* Remember, there are always resources that you can use
* Be patient, the act of immigrating is a process of adaptation to new situations. It is going to take time
* Learn to be constructive. If you encounter an unfavorable environment, don't put yourself in that position again. Be easy on yourself.
* Don't try too hard.
* Learn to include a regular form of physical activity in your routine. This will help combat the sadness and loneliness in a constructive manner. Exercise, swim, take an aerobics class, etc.
* Relaxation and meditation are proven to be very positive for people who are passing through periods of stress
* Maintain contact with your ethnic group. This will give you a feeling of belonging and you will reduce your feelings of loneliness and alienation
* Maintain contact with the new culture. Learn the language. Volunteer in community activities that allow you to practice the language that you are learning. This will help you feel less stress about language and useful at the same time.
* Allow yourself to feel sad about the things that you have left behind: your family, your friends,etc.
* Recognize the sorrow of leaving your old country. Accept the new country. Focus your power on getting through the transition.
* Pay attention to relationships with your family and at work. They will serve as support for you in difficult times.
* Establish simple goals and evaluate your progress.
* Find ways to live with the things that don't satisfy you 100%.
* Maintain confidence in yourself. Follow your ambitions and continue your plans for the future.
* If you feel stressed, look for help. There is always someone or some service available to help you. You may want to check
Good stuff! If everyone reads this it may help them to personally discern why they may be feeling certain ways. Such self awareness can help some to understand their need to vent when on this board. It can also help the readers to see why some may have gotten to that stage. More importantly, it also shows the immense benefit a community, such as we have here on this board, can be to help ease the transition difficulties some face.
This describes my first few months to a 'T'! The good news is that you either adjust or find out it is not for you! I love it here now and hopefully will for a long time.
Well said and so true. After a while you start to wonder if you will have the same "culture shock" if you go back to the mainland. Still think the folks up there drink too much coffee and drive too fast 🙂 Last time I went to the states I started crying in a Winn Dixie Superstore. Mother was mortified.
I think I'm between stages 2 and 3 after 6 months! Great post. Thanks for making feel just a little "normal" here.
Bou'ya: I think that is why so many fold after 6 months. They get to the 2nd stage but can't quite get to gaining an understanding. There are serious problems with all cultures- you have to be able to pick out the good from the bad and "find ways to live with the things that don't satisfy you 100%."
They used to call the first few months a period of settling in. This is exactly what they were talking about.
Islander: If you could get approval, this article would be a great addition to the FAQs here.
I couold not agree with this post more. I have been there, done that and have the T-shirt.
Pamela: Crying in a Winn-Dixie? Care to elaborate?
Ric: Which T-shirt? Can I get one too?
Produce - beautiful produce. Tomatoes that tasted like tomatoes. Peaches that smelled like they had just fallen off the trees. Yep, it was the produce that did me in. Eyes misted over ... and that was before I checked the meat prices 🙂
What about strawberries for half the price we pay here?
East Ender, you are making me tear up again! I saw strawberries at Marina Market this weekend for $7.99 for the large clam container. They should be shot! Did I buy them? Oh yes. Were they good? Oh yes but geez ...... have you tried to grow them?
My okra and peppers are coming along nicely, the squash is blooming. Lost all the tomatoes again (and the puppy was so proud of herself she brought me the last plant after she dug it up).
That is a great article. Thanks for posting it.
thank you for the post it great to see people out there helping with everything and since I am moving in oct I couldn't ask for anything better to prepare myself
Heck I moved 15 minutes away from Philly over to Jersey and I have culture shock lol. Never thought people could be so difference just minutes away from each other. If you have to feel this way you might as well uproot to where you love it.
Interesting post, though it actually depresses me in some ways...if that makes sense.
Remember -- this works the other way too. After living here for several years, one experiences culture shock when going back to the upper 48. My wife and I are retired foreign service officers and often found we had our biggest culture shocks when we returned home. The ultimate shock came in the early '80s when, after having served in Rangoon, Burma, for two years, we returned to the DC area. Imagine, if you will, after two years of open markets with few goods to buy walking down the aisles of a large supermarket!
I was back in Kentucky for 2 months last winter and the sheer quantity of groceries at my sisters Super Walmart made me dizzy. It was actually hard to make choices. I found myself saying "who needs this?"
The sheer quantity of everything overwhelms me when I go to the States to the point I have a hard time picking so I have to agree with Linda.
I agree, my eyes glaze over and I have to get out of places like Best Buy and some of the huge everything stores. I also get overwhelmed by the sheer number of people.
BTW, I sure do miss some of the posters on this old thread- Pamela, especially.
I love this board, you go from "culture shock " to strawberries. Anyhow, sounds more like " future shock " ie: too many changes too fast, to me as opposed to culture shock. Seems to me culture shock would happen if a new culture were forced upon you, not chosen. Anyone who has traveled outside the " upper 48 " especially in a non-tourtist mode should know. How do you describe the United States in one word ?........................FOOD
One Love Ironman
How would a culture be forced on you? You choose where you live, so I dont get your concept. Future shock sounds like a bad sci-fic movie. You will find a good many of the posters have lived in many different cultures and just because you've experienced different cultures doesnt mean there isn't a period of adjustment to yet another one. Not really sure what you mean by your food comment or one love ironman.
Job relocation, you're in the military, you family moves, etc,etc,etc. Future Shock, is just as viable a theory as Culture Shock in the same book, not a comic book.
70% of the the worlds population is lucky if they eat one meal a day. Americans throw food away. You only need ask someone who was born and raised in a third world country and was fortunate to find themselves the U.S. what they like about our country. As for " One love" I gather you never listened to Bob Marly.
One Love ironman
Ja Rah and one love to you by brotha' ironman.
Actually I know lots of third world country folks that are in the USofA and I have never heard them utter the word FOOD when explaining why they like this country.
A person does not experience culture shock when they are experiencing their own culture. Culture shock occurs when an individual is in an entirely new culture. In this particular instance, a mainlander moving to the USVI will be introduced to new culture and environment. The experience that a few of you point out that you experience upon your return to the US is a reorientation to your custom and norms. Basically seeing your culture from a new perspective