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What Is Culture Shock?

Many people joke about culture shock, using it to describe situations when they find themselves feeling different or out of place, but the phenomenon is very real and affects many people who move overseas. The term describes the multitude of emotions that a person can experience as they become a part of the culture in their new home.

Sociologists and psychologists have studied culture shock extensively and found that it usually involves four phases:

The Honeymoon Period

This stage occurs initially after the move, and is marked with excitement and curiosity about the new culture. People going through culture shock are typically focused upon the things they love about their new home, such as the food or the local customs.

The Negotiation Phase

The Negotiation Phase sets in once the initial fascination with one's new home fades. This phase of culture shock is often marked by negative feelings, which can include frustration, anger, loneliness and being homesick. For some, the feelings can become very severe and lead to clinical depression. Others find that this phase brings stress at work or home. Although it's a difficult time, it does eventually pass and is a necessary part of adapting to a new culture.

The Adjustment Phase

This marks the start of a person beginning to adapt to the new culture. During this time, people begin to view their new country as their "home" and stop feeling like a visitor and more like a resident. As a person begins to feel more familiar and oriented, while also having a deeper understanding of the people and culture around them, the negative feelings of the Negotiation Phase gradually subside.

The Mastery Phase

The Mastery Phase is the end of culture shock. When a person reaches this phase, they view themselves as a member of the society in which they live.

How quickly you progress from phase to phase can vary greatly, but most people find they have fully recovered from culture shock within one or two of their move. One way to help mitigate the effects of culture shock is to learn as much as you can about your destination country prior to your move. As a part of international moving services, Chess Moving can help you research your new home. Contact us for more information.


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