After being in the United States for a long time, or even for your entire life, adjusting to a new way of living can be quite difficult. This can be especially true if you are going to be living in this new place for an extended period of time like a college student studying abroad for a semester. If you have ever experienced culture shock, you’ll know it is quite interesting in how it manifests itself. Sometimes it will hit you as soon as you step foot on foreign soil, but other times it could very slowly creep up on you months after arriving at the new destination. Similar to the different stages of grief, culture shock can go through four different steps. First, there is the so called “honeymoon stage”. Similar to the honeymoon phase in a newly married couple’s life, this is when the current experience is so full of joy and excitement. Everything is new and exciting. Next is the “frustration stage”. This stage occurs when you become overwhelmed with not knowing things or feeling insecure with your surroundings.
For example, not completely understanding the language, not understanding different etiquettes or gestures and having difficulty finding foods you enjoy are perfect representations of this stage. The “adjustment stage” happens when you start to become acclimated to your surrounding environment abroad. Things that were found to be difficult before are now easier, like getting around more efficiently or become more comfortable with the local language. Finally, this is where the “acceptance stage” comes into play. After spending so much time becoming accustomed to the “new” world around you and the different ways of doing things, you become to feel at ease. You don’t feel as stressed when it comes to doing everyday activities and you begin to accept the environment around you with open arms.
Over this past Summer, I was lucky enough to experience culture shock for the first time. Although I didn’t experience a true extreme poverty ridden place, it still had the same effects on me....