Beat culture shock! (Definition and stages)


Do you feel blue and distressed living in a foreign country where you moved recently? It’s absolutely normal, read below and learn the different stages culture shock produces.

Culture shock

Culture shock

The term culture shock is a relatively recent name coined by the anthropologist Kalervo Oberg in 1960. Until recently this concept was assumed to be a constant negative experience described by Oberg (1960) as a “disease”. According to Oberg there are six negative aspects produced by culture shock which are: (1) stress provoked by the psychological effort of adjusting to the new environment, (2) a sense of loss derived from the removal or deprivation of friends, status and role, (3) rejection of the host country’s culture, (4) uncertainty about role expectations and self identity, (5) anxiety and rejection towards the new way of living of the host country, (6) feeling of helplessness for not being able to cope well in the new environment. Furthermore, Oberg identified four stages of this “disease”: honeymoon, rejection, crisis and adjustment. The honeymoon stage is characterised by the enthusiasm for being in a different environment. This stage can last from a few days to a few months and is usually experienced by those people who hold high-profile positions and do not find themselves forced to face daily life difficulties. For example business men who are pampered in luxury hotels, showed the best places and taken to dine in fine restaurants. If the individual does not go further this stage, they describe their stay abroad as an enjoyable experience when they return home. Beyond this superficial stage, there is the stage of rejection which happens when, an individual of any background,  is compelled to cope with daily difficulties in the host country. Conditions of living, including the weather can be hostile and in this stage the visitor does not respond well to these variations. They feel a sense of rejection towards those problems such as language, shopping and transportation trouble. They perceive the hosts of the new culture to be insensitive to their situation and seek the help of their countryman in most cases feeling a sense of dependency from them. However, the latter if well established in the new culture usually avoids their countryman suffering from culture shock. This is the critical stage of crisis where the visitor either overcomes their frustration and sickness or leave.

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One thought on “Beat culture shock! (Definition and stages)

  1. Pingback: The 4 Stages of Culture Shock « Chronicles of Yoyo

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