3. The Adjustment Stage Frustrations are often subdued as travelers begin to feel more familiar and comfortable with the cultures, people, food and languages of new environments. Navigation becomes easier, friends and communities of support are established and details of local languages may become more recognizable during the adjustment stage.
?Because I was in Turkey for six months in a study abroad setting, acclimating to my new environment was sped up due to all of the resources I was able to access. However, I found that the best way to understand my new environment was to ask questions and learn to respect the culture in the way it currently exists. The local Turkish people seemed much more accommodating when I showed genuine interest in their customs, rather than obviously being an American who was uncomfortable with her new situation. I also found myself asking my Turkish roommates what was okay to do, not okay to do, where to go and where not to go, so I was able to adjust to my environment more quickly.? ? Kate Riley, marketing and communications intern
4. The Acceptance Stage Generally ? though sometimes weeks, months or years after wrestling with the emotional stages outlined above ? the final stage of culture shock is acceptance. Acceptance doesn?t mean that new cultures or environments are completely understood, rather it signifies realization that complete understanding isn?t necessary to function and thrive in the new surroundings. During the acceptance stage, travelers have the familiarity and are able to draw together the resources they need to feel at ease.
?When I moved from California to North Carolina, I came to the conclusion that one culture is not better than the other ? there is no right or wrong, they are just different. And yes, that brought peace of mind, no more judgement or coming to my own conclusions.? ? Fernanda Araujo
?There was a time when I realized that constantly comparing and contrasting everything would never allow me to be really happy here. Qualifying the differences worked both ways, and I felt torn between my life here and what used to be my life back in Germany. So I began to see the differences as what they are ? just differences ? without trying to rate them or use them to put one place over the other. Over time, I felt much more at ease with my life in the U.S., and I began to understand that these differences are what living abroad is all about.? ? Arne Plum
Overcoming Homesickness in a New CountryFor people living abroad, homesickness is bound to creep in. Here is what a few Participate staff members had to say about dealing with homesickness:
?I think I just acknowledged homesickness and sadness as natural parts of my cross-cultural experience. I stayed in touch with my family and friends but also worked on making friends here in the U.S., and looked for any opportunities to experience new things and visit new places.? ? Anamaria Knight, director of curriculum and instructional design, on her experience moving to the U.S. from Romania for graduate school.
?I learned early on that missing your home culture is okay. I find that talking to friends and family, and having my favorite movie and/or snack in the house helps in those moments when I do miss home.? ? Lisa Lundegard, e-learning business systems analyst, on immigrating to the U.S. from Sweden.
?It?s so easy to stay connected with family back home these days through email, Skype, WhatsApp ? there are great new ways to constantly stay in touch so things are quite different from years back, I believe. When I feel homesick I usually have a long Skype chat with family or friends back home.? ? Nitya Mallikarjun
Though it can be one of the hardest part of traveling, culture shock is just as integral to the experience as food, people and scenery. By recognizing it for what it is and finding ways to cope, you can prevent culture shock from ruining an otherwise fantastic experience abroad.
To learn more about living and teaching abroad, check out the Participate Learning blog.