Culture Shock – A Study Case


As a result of a new pattern developed by recent research, emerges a new model of culture shock; an educational, growth model which emphasises the potential positive consequences of culture shock. An anecdotal illustration to this new concept of culture shock is the experience of a friend who came in the UK to stay only for a few months. When she first arrived in London her language skills were very low and it was the first time she had left her home country.

After the initial month, when she experienced a high sense of enthusiasm and curiosity towards the new environment, she soon experienced and came to terms with the feeling of uncertainty, ambiguity and loss. She started feeling lonely and was missing her home friends and family. She would tell me, she found people to be distant and individualistic not placing the right significance on the values of family and friendship.

In addition, she perceived the weather to be one of her main concerns as she was used to a Mediterranean climate. As she had to support her studies of the English language she had to look for a part time job. When she started looking, she felt terribly stressed as she could hardly speak the language and people did not seem to be sympathetic with her situation.

Soon she felt anger towards the host people and the new way of doing things which she had to learn in order to carry out daily life activities. She would feel totally lost when taking the bus and the underground. Sometimes, she told me the bus did not even stop because it was too crowed and she was left standing outside in the rain in disbelief as in her home country buses would stop anyway to try to get as many people on. Moreover, she did not pay attention to the queue lines and found getting shouted at for jumping the queue.

The work interviews were a complete failure as her language skills were not good enough. As a result of these incidents, she considered going back home as the stress was too much to bear. Confronted with a sense of failure, she then decided to stay and undertake the challenge of fitting in the new environment, no matter how hard it would have been to succeed. At this stage, she focused more on her language studies and prepared a speech for the interviews. After many rejections, she was so stubborn that she found a job in a fast food chain in central London. She felt reborn, she made friends at work and felt her language skills were improving day by day. She felt part of the host country’s social life and began to embrace those cultural differences which previously made her feel stressed and miserable.

At times she would still experience a sense of loss and uncertainty but she would cope with difficulties in a much better way which did not result in major crises. Over time, this cyclical process of adjustment became more and more rewarding until when she was actually able to master the host country language and deal with people from different backgrounds. Believing in her abilities, she decided to further her studies and ended up going to University and working in a office. Eventually, what it was supposed to be a sojourn of one year resulted in a stay of several years during when she developed valuable new skills and improved her existing ones.

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Father’s day around the world

It’s on the 19th of March in Italy, Spain, Portugal and other countries, it’s on the third Sunday of June in the UK, Costa Rica, Turkey, South Africa and many more countries. Father’s day seems to vary a lot and sometimes when you live in the UK, you are Italian and your father lives in Costa Rica is a bit confusing. However, I stick to my culture with the 19th of March, even though I have been living abroad for very long time. So, I wonder even though we live abroad do we remain deeply rooted in our culture, do we integrate with the host culture enough?

Father’s day was actually created to complement Mother’s Day, for the first time in the US in the 20th century. Today is celebrated all over the world on different months. In catholic countries it is celebrated on the feast of St Joseph and in Italy we even have a dessert named after such a Saint, le zeppole di San Giuseppe.









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Are you curious to know where and when is this event celebrated? Here is a list taken from Wikipedia. Enjoy it

Gregorian calendar
Occurrence Dates Country
February 23 Russia (Defender of the Fatherland Day[23])*
March 19 Andorra (Dia del Pare)
Belgium (Antwerp)
Mozambique (Dia do Pai)
Italy (Festa del Papà)
Switzerland (Canton Ticino)
Portugal (Dia do Pai)
Spain (Día del Padre)
May 8 South Korea (Parents’ Day)
Second Sunday of May May 12, 2013
May 11, 2014
May 10, 2015
Romania[26] (Ziua Tatălui)
Third Sunday of May May 19, 2013
May 18, 2014
May 17, 2015
Ascension Day May 9, 2013
May 29, 2014
May 14, 2015
First Sunday of June Jun 2, 2013
Jun 1, 2014
Jun 7, 2015
Lithuania (Tėvo diena)
June 5 Denmark[27] (also Constitution Day)
Second Sunday of June Jun 9, 2013
Jun 8, 2014
Jun 14, 2015
Third Sunday of June Jun 16, 2013
Jun 15, 2014
Jun 21, 2015
Afghanistan[citation needed]
Albania[citation needed]
Antigua and Barbuda
Brunei Darussalam
People’s Republic of China**
Costa Rica[30]
Czech Republic
Hong Kong
Puerto Rico
Saint Lucia
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
South Africa
Sri Lanka
Trinidad and Tobago
United Kingdom
United States
June 17 El Salvador[37] Guatemala[38]
June 21 Lebanon[39]
June 23 Nicaragua Poland
Last Sunday of June Jun 30, 2013
Jun 29, 2014
Jun 28, 2015
Second Sunday of July Jul 14, 2013
Jul 13, 2014
Jul 12, 2015
Last Sunday of July Jul 28, 2013
Jul 27, 2014
Jul 26, 2015
Dominican Republic
August 8 Taiwan
Second Sunday of August Aug 11, 2013
Aug 10, 2014
Aug 9, 2015
First Sunday of September Sep 1, 2013
Sep 7, 2014
Sep 6, 2015
New Zealand
Papua New Guinea
Second Sunday of September Sep 8, 2013
Sep 14, 2014
Sep 13, 2015
Third Sunday of September Sep 15, 2013
Sep 21, 2014
Sep 20, 2015
First Sunday of October Oct 6, 2013
Oct 5, 2014
Oct 4, 2015
Second Sunday of November Nov 10, 2013
Nov 9, 2014
Nov 8, 2015
Estonia (Isadepäev)
Finland (Isänpäivä)
November 12 Indonesia
December 5 Thailand (The birthday of King Bhumibol)[40]
December 26 Bulgaria
Hindu calendar
Definition Sample dates Country/Territory
(Gokarna Aunsi)
Between 30 August and 30 September Nepal[41]
Islamic calendar
Occurrence Sample dates Country/Territory
13 Rajab June 16, 2011 Iran


Beat culture shock (Adaptation stage and U-Curve Hypothesis)

Confidence is the best remedy

Confidence is the best remedy

If an individual manages to overcome the stage of rejection, the adaptation stage begins. This stage is described by Oberg as an achievement as the visitor starts to communicate using the host language and interacts more with the country hosts. At this point, the visitor perceives the daily challenges with less anxiety and is able to crack a joke over the difficulties experienced. Therefore, the adjustment stage has taken place and the visitor feels confident in dealing with daily life situations and embraces the hosts traditions and customs. Sometimes when going back home, the visitor misses the country he lived in, its people and its culture. Other researchers such as S.O. Lesser and H.W.S. Peter (1957, cited in Pedersen 1995), developed a three stage theory regarding culture shock, identifying the first stage as the spectator phase on arrival, the second stage as when the individual cannot stand any longer outside the host culture and needs to get involved and third stage when the individual learns how to cope with difficulties in daily life activity. More recent is the cultural shock stage theory developed by I. Torbion (1982, cited in Pedersen 1995) where he describes the first stage as the tourist phase, the second stage as the culture shock phase, the third stage as the conformist phase and fourth stage as the assimilation phase. Although there are variations in the stages described, culture shock stage theories are largely shared among those writing about this construct. This succession of stages has been referred to a U-curve where the process of adjustment moves from a higher level towards a lower level to then return to a higher level when the ability to cope with the new culture increases. S. Lysgaard (1955) was the first to develop the U-curve hypothesis describing the adjustment process of international students sojourning in a foreign country (cited in Pedersen 1995). This initial curve was then modified into a W-curve by J.T. Gullahorn and J.E. Gullahorn (1963) who pointed out how the adjustment process taking place when back home, resembled the initial adjustment in the host country taking the name of reverse cultural shock (cited in Pedersen 1995). In support of the U-curve hypothesis are eleven empirical studies. However, the results of these studies, support only the general hypothesis but do not prove that a level of full adjustment, comparable to the one the individual experienced back home, can be achieved. 

Read the introduction to this article here

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Related articles

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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