In today’s unpredictable, fluid job market, the transnational movement has increased. And this process of adapting to a new culture and environment refers to cultural transition. It generates a broad range of feelings and emotions.
People go through various stages in the adjustment process depending upon the reactions and responses of people towards it.
Stages of Cultural Adaptation:
- The Honeymoon Stage: The first stage a person experiences, after coming to a new culture in which everything appears new and exhilarating with slight nervousness. Most individuals feel active and excited while going through this stage, which may persist for the varied duration of time depending on the circumstances of individuals.
The Culture Shock Stage: This stage deals with the struggles arising from the disparities between the home culture and the new culture a person goes to, including:
- Using a foreign language.
- Unable to communicate with people in authority.
- Unable to be friends with people from different cultures.
- Not being understood, expressing yourself in a normal way.
- Different food customs.
- Different religious practices.
- Finding tremendous differences in the educational system.
- Meeting people who are impatient when you fail to understand things right away.
- Finding that some people are biased against people from different cultures.
Feelings that can be added in the culture shock stage include depression, anxiety, addiction, anger, grief, and the following:
- Feeling uneasy
- Feeling lonely & homesick
- Feeling annoyed
- Feeling incompetent
- Feeling bewildered
- Feeling afraid
- The feeling that you don't belong
- The Recovery Stage: In this stage, people start resolving their conflicts after spending some time in the new culture. They begin regaining a sense of recognition. People hold a better understanding of internal and external resources that support them in managing requirements and disputes that might arise, till the time they reach this stage. Feelings and emotions of this stage are typically a blend of the first two stages.
- The Adaptation Stage: People acquire a realistic understanding of the similarities and dissimilarities between their home cultures and the new culture in this stage. A lot of people advance in the path of becoming bicultural and appreciate the features of both cultures. This stage is identified by a sense of belief, maturity, adaptability, and understanding.
- Reverse Culture Shock: Based on the preliminary stages, this is often the most unexpected part of the cultural adaptation process. Although people become familiar and relatively happy with the new culture by incorporating new strategies and behavior that allows them to operate better in the new culture. However, on returning to their home culture, they may have to undergo the same stages as described above on witnessing changes that took place in their home culture, while they were away.
Tips for Successful Cultural Adaptation:
Becoming familiar with the outlook of the new academic system and culture can help international students to adjust smoothly.
Discuss the educational criteria with fellow students, teachers, and professors.
Stay in touch with Teaching Assistants and Professors, seeking their advice and assistance.
Spend more time listening and communicating with fellow students and other native people.
Watch TV and read journals or newspaper to gather information about the local culture.
Verify with others on being unsure of appropriate behavior, language use, etc.
Find a person whom you feel comfortable with and help you know better about the new culture.
Find someone to share your emotions and feelings.
Stay in touch with your close friends and family.
Create a balance in work and recreational activities in your daily life.
Apart from all the above-stated tips and ways you can seek cross cultural counseling or support if you feel unable to cope with the stress arising from poor cross cultural management. An experienced counselor can help you learn more about adjustment psychology by various means. Especially considering the absence of the natural support system from home in the new setting.
National Alliance on Mental Illness
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