How To Overcome Culture Shock?

When subjected to an unfamiliar setting we have all felt a feeling of displacement. However, the extent to which we feel a culture shock is different for each individual. We have tried to get to grips with this phenomenon down to the details and we are not alone here because a number of anthropologists, sociologists and psychologist have been examining it since the 1950s.

Lysgaard (1955) outlined a U-curve that seeks to describe the degree of adjustment to the cultural circumstances over time. This simple pictorial representation has seen its use in corporate training regimes and even educational contexts. Elaborations and tweaks have been made to the original theory to this date but we cannot go through all of them because they are far too numerous. But first, let’s introduce the four phases of cultural adjustment.

On Honeymoon

To begin with, when a person is first exposed to an environment that is wholly new culturally it is called the honeymoon period – think about when you went on holiday, gap year, Erasmus program, mandate, work placement, etc. The initial exposure to the novel surroundings does not induce stress but rather entices the person to enjoy the area. Whatever dreams or expectations one has had about the place at first seem to be true or fulfilled. This period lasts from 0-3 months approximately.

Crisis

Very shortly after the honeymoon period people have a tendency to enter a phase of crisis – they feel increased anxiety. The cultural differences are no longer perceived as exotic but rather are becoming a nuisance. Plenty of factors contribute to this stage such as: language barriers, public hygiene, congestion, cuisine, food quality, etc. This crisis tends to last between 3-6 months.

Recovery

After the crisis period, the person becomes accustomed to the environment and slowly begins to adjust to his or her surroundings around 6-12 months. A possible reason seems to be that the subject begins to develop routines and increased knowledge of the area, eliminating uncertainty. Issues that used to be around are now solved with relative ease that pertains to everyday activities.

Adaptation

This phase is commonly called the mastery stage, when individuals begin to feel as if their surroundings have become ‘normal’. Sometimes dubbed the bicultural stage due to the person assimilating nuances from their environment more than ever before. This period naturally begins after a year or so. This is the rightmost tip of the U-curve that is higher than the left tip concerning the honeymoon period.

Conclusion

Interestingly, the phenomenon of reverse-culture shock suggests that this same process may occur for a person when they come back to their domestic environment. Cases include expatriates that have been away for a number of years and come back home yet still feel that familiar feeling of displacement. Culture shock usually addresses a single yet elusive concept, but hopefully the reader has seen, just as much as we have, the complexity of the phenomenon ripe for more interesting research.

How We Learn as Adults

“Small groups of aspiring adults who desire to keep their minds fresh and vigorous; who begin to learn by confronting pertinent situations; who dig down into the reservoirs of their secondary facts; who are led in the discussion by teachers who are also seekers after wisdom and not oracles: this constitutes the setting for adult education the modern quest for life’s meaning.” Continue reading “How We Learn as Adults”

Truth or Myth? Common Gender Stereotypes

The OHCHR defines gender stereotypes in the following way: “A gender stereotype is a generalised view or preconception about attributes or characteristics, or the roles that are or ought to be possessed by, or performed by women and men. A gender stereotype is harmful when it limits women’s and men’s capacity to develop their personal abilities, pursue their professional careers and make choices about their lives.” Continue reading “Truth or Myth? Common Gender Stereotypes”

Why Social Inclusion Matters?

Being socially inclusive means making sure that all members of your society feel equally valued. Policies of social inclusion make sure that all individuals and groups are guaranteed equal basic human rights. Sometimes, the aim of social inclusion will involve improving the living conditions and providing opportunities for the most disadvantaged parts of the population, or those who are discriminated based on their economic status, race, religion, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, disability, etc. Continue reading “Why Social Inclusion Matters?”

Youth Exchange Programs – the Future of Learning Languages?

What are youth exchange programs?

Youth exchange programs are commonly referred to as foreign exchange programs and are designed to bring international students as a secondary school level to live and learn with a host family attending a school in the selected country. These programs are designed to help enrich students to give them the opportunity to experience other countries, something that they would not be able to otherwise. Continue reading “Youth Exchange Programs – the Future of Learning Languages?”