Russian World Forums

Cultural shock
Page 1 of 1

Author:  wiz [ 22 Nov 2008 09:02 ]
Post subject:  Cultural shock

Culture shock

Your partner may go through this when arriving in your country.


Culture shock does not imply a serious mental condition, but rather a more long term psychological stress.

In 1958 Kalvero Oberg first identified five distinct stages of culture shock. He found that all human beings experience the same feelings when they travel to or live in a different country or culture. He found that culture shock is almost like a disease: it has a cause, symptoms, and a cure. Culture shock describes the anxiety produced when a person moves to a completely new environment. This term expresses the lack of direction, the feeling of not knowing what to do or how to do things in a new environment, and not knowing what is appropriate or inappropriate. The onset can vary from a few weeks to months after coming to a new place.


Whenever someone travels overseas they are like "a fish out of the water." In general we do not think too much about the culture we are raised in. Our culture helps to shape our identity. Many of the cues of interpersonal communication (body language, words, facial expressions, tone of voice, idioms, slang) are different in different cultures. When we enter a new culture we do not know all of the cues that are used in the new culture. Everything is different, for example, not speaking the language, not knowing how to use banking machines, not knowing how to use the telephone and so forth.


It is important to understand that culture shock happens to all people who travel abroad, but some people have much stronger reactions than others. Symptoms are very similar to the those of depression:

Sadness, loneliness, melancholy
Preoccupation with health multiple system complaints.
Insomnia, desire to sleep too much or too little.
Changes in temperament, feeling vulnerable-powerless
Anger, irritability, resentment, unwillingness to interact with others
Identifying with the old culture or idealizing the old country
Loss of identity. Feelings of inadequacy or insecurity
Trying too hard to absorb everything in the new culture or country
Unable to solve simple problems
Lack of confidence
Developing stereotypes about the new culture
Developing obsessions such as over-cleanliness
Longing for family
Feelings of being lost, overlooked, exploited or abused
Stages of Culture Shock

Psychologists describe five distinct phases (or stages) of culture shock.

1. Tourist or Honeymoon Phase

At first a person's stay in a new country, everything usually goes fairly smoothly. This period could last 6 months or longer. The newcomer is excited about being in a new place and experiencing a new lifestyle. The newcomer may have some problems, but usually accepts them as just part of the newness. The newcomer may find that "the red carpet" has been rolled out for him or her. The feeling is the same for developing and highly developed countries.

2. Emptiness or Rejection Phase

The newcomer has to deal with transportation problems (buses that don't come on time), shopping problems (can't buy favorite foods) or communication problems. One may start to seem like people no longer care about your problems. They may help, but they don't seem to understand your concern over what they see as small problems. You might even start to think that the people in the host country don't like foreigners and are becoming alien.

The symptoms listed above start to present themselves in full force. The newcomer may begin to feel aggressive and start to complain about the host culture/country. However, it is important to recognize that these feelings are real and can become serious. This phase is a kind of crisis in the 'disease' of culture shock. It is called the "rejection" phase because it is at this point that the newcomer starts to reject the host country, complaining about and noticing only the bad things that bother them. At this stage the newcomer may either move on to the third stage, seek comfort with a colony of countrymen Colony Syndrome or simply go home.

3. The Conformist Phase

The Conformist Phase is characterized by gaining some understanding of the new culture, its ideals and values. A new feeling of pleasure and sense of humour may be experienced. One may start to feel a certain psychological balance. The crisis is over when one starts understand and tolerate cultural differences. The new arrival may not feel as lost and starts to have a feeling of direction. The newcomer is now 90% adjusted to the new culture.

4. Assimilation Phase or Complete Adjustment

In this stage we accept the food, drinks, habits and customs of the host country, and may even find some things preferable in the host country to things at home. One realizes that there are different ways to live and that no way is really better than another, just different. Finally, the expatriate has become comfortable in the new place. Upon the final return home the traveler will miss the country and cherish the memories forever.


It is important to remember that not everyone experiences all the phases of culture shock. It is also important to know that you can experience all of them at different times: you might experience the regression phase before the rejection phase, etc. You might even experience the regression phase on Monday, the conformist phase on Tuesday, the honeymoon phase on Wednesday, and the rejection phase again on Thursday. "What will Friday be like?"

Minimizing Culture Shock

The majority of individuals and families that immigrate from other countries have the ability to positively confront the obstacles of a new environment. Some ways to combat stress produced by culture shock are:

When deciding to go live overseas make the decision to move as a group. Is the family stable and strong enough?

Learn about the new culture through books-brochures embassy visits-videos-meetings with someone who has been to the country- trying authentic foods- language classes.

Approach the move with a good attitude. Maximize the good aspects of the new culture-language-. Don't compare-criticize-complain.

Settle down - unpack and set up house ASAP. Avoid long stays in hotels while waiting for your permanent housing. Find a house that will fit your lifestyle. Act as if your are settling down for life.

Be open to new ways.

Develop a hobby.

Learn the language or local ethnic cooking

Be patient. The act of immigrating is a process of adaptation to new situations. It is going to take time

Learn to be constructive. If you encounter an unfavourable environment, don't put yourself in that position again. Be easy on yourself. Learn to include a regular form of physical activity and time to relax in your routine.

Maintain contact with your ethnic group- Newspapers-magazine- TV -email-phoning This will give you a feeling of belonging and you will reduce your feelings of homesickness.

Increase contact with the new culture. Volunteer in community activities that allow you to practice the language that you are learning.

Allow yourself to feel sad about the things that you have left behind: your family, your friends, etc.

Pay attention to relationships with your family and at work. They will serve as support for you in difficult times.

Find ways to live with the things that don't satisfy you 100%.

If you feel stressed, look for help. There is always someone or some service available to help you.

Cultural shock

Author:  Luckyspin [ 21 Jan 2009 11:39 ]
Post subject:  Re: Cultural shock

Excellent article with plenty of usefull information for everybody.

Author:  Luckyspin [ 25 Aug 2010 19:31 ]
Post subject:  Re: Cultural shock

How to fight Cultural differences and stay happy.

In marriage we are looking for a partner who will be able to understand our values, our likes and dislikes.

If a man and a woman are born and raised in the same country, most likely they are familiar with the same songs, movies, jokes, books and life in general. They basically have the same roots. In the case of a western man -foreign woman family everything is more complicated and requires much more patience and understanding from both spouses.

On one hand each of the partners has an opportunity to learn a great deal about the other’s country, culture, traditions and life styles which can be very interesting.

On the other hand it can be very disappointing, the inability to understand your partner’s excitements and, or frustrations. For example, say you are watching the television and suddenly you see a famous actor or singer, or other type of an artist whose name you have grown up with. Maybe this artist was an idol for your parents and the music of this artist was often played in your house when you were a child.

Now seeing this singer on television reminded you about your parents and house where you grew up in. You nostalgically remembered the tree that you saw from your window. You feel very light headed about this memory and want to share this feeling with your foreign wife.

Unfortunately you realize that she is unable to understand your feelings because she has no idea who this artist is. Her eyes are absolutely empty; she has never even heard the song before. You cannot believe it !

You tell her that this artist is so famous! Everyone knows him! How it possible that she doesn't know???

Your light feelings of nostalgic disappear and instead you feel within your soul at very large disappointment...

Be patient! Don’t become upset so quickly.

Remember that your wife has the same situation with you. You don t know her country’s songs, her country's famous actors, her books. She has her own memories and in actuality, for her, everything is much more difficult than it is for you. At least, you live in your own country where everybody can understand you. She lives in completely strange surroundings, where she has nobody to share her feelings with, except you.

Do some research and learn about your wife's country, culture and lifestyles. Talk with her, ask her questions, get to know what songs she likes, what movies and books are of interest to her. The Internet will give you a great opportunity to find anything! Tell her about your country's culture, let her listen to the music that you like, rent a movie for her that left you with great impression. Let her understand you better through the things that you like.

Patience and time will help you to fight cultural differences.

By Marina Smiley
Author of some of the most popular e-Books about Russian Western marriages ... rences.htm

Author:  jg101 [ 25 Aug 2010 20:04 ]
Post subject:  Re: Cultural shock

I think the UK will suffer a bigger culture shock from my fiancee being there than she will! :D

Author:  Turboguy [ 25 Aug 2010 20:18 ]
Post subject:  Re: Cultural shock

Actually JG, it can be a pretty big shock for the husband as well. :D

Page 1 of 1 All times are UTC
Powered by phpBB