Tuesday, 22 October 2013

culture shock

The whole point of being an expat is living and breathing a different country and culture and experiencing the different way of life that runs alongside. But this is probably one of the fundamental parts people struggle with. That and the homesickness. 

Culture shock is not necessarily a bad thing. Like many things that challenge your current perceptions or understandings, all it takes is a little adjustment period. And believe me, moving countries will challenge your perceptions to no end. 

Everything from the signs, the way people drive, the products in the supermarket, the customs for specific occasions and the daily life of people in a different country will shock you at first. 

culture shock works both ways - realising you can drive 2 hours and be on "holiday"  is shocking in a good way!

But one day you will wake up and the things that were once strange and new will not even make a difference to your day. You will easily adapt to the "way things are done" and while you may not agree with them, you will accept them because if you don't, you can easily drive yourself crazy. 

Judith divided the experience of culture shock into several stages, in a recent article for the Internations Expat Magazine. She says there is The Honeymoon Phase, The Negotiation Phase, The Adjustment Phase and The Mastery Phase. Definitely go read the full article because anyone who has, will or does live in a different country will be able to take something from this. 

Personally I did the honeymoon phase; the novelty of life in a new country makes everything exciting, whether it is going to the supermarket and finding local products or exploring new environments and landscapes. Even living with the boyfriends granny for a month in a small village outside of the city was exciting. But this phase disappears just as quickly as it comes. The negotiation phase is an inevitable part of the transition to life in a new country. But I found the adjustment phase came shortly after.

As for the mastery phase, well I think I am still trying to figure that one out!


  1. I totally agree with this. There are always good and bad things with culture shock. But you always take something away from it.

    1. Indeed Kayleigh! You will always have culture shock no matter where you are, but you can always take something from every experience.


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