«Living in a second culture can be like riding on a roller coaster. Sometimes foreign visitors are elated; sometimes they are depressed. First there is the combination of enthusiasm and excitement that is felt while travelling. New foods and aromas, difference faces, foreign languages, and interesting customs all fascinate the traveler. A foreign visitor usually has high expectations and is eager to become familiar with a new culture.»
«Culture shock» occurs as a result of total immersion in a new culture. Newcomers may anxious because they do not speak the language, know the customs, or understand people’s behavior in daily life. The visitor finds that «yes» may not always mean «yes», that friendliness does not necessarily. mean friendship, or that statements that appear to be serious are really intended as jokes. The foreigner may be unsure as to when to shake hands or embrace, when to initiate conversations, or how to approach a stranger. The notion of «culture shock» helps explain feelings of bewilderment and disorientation. ...When an individual enters a strange culture, ...he or she is like fish out of water. Reaction to a new culture vary, but experience and research have shown that there are distinct stages in the adjustment process of foreign visitors. When leaving the comfortably secure environment of home, a person will naturally experience some stress and anxiety. The severity of culture shock depends on visitor’s personalities, language ability, emotional support, and duration of stay. Visitors coming for short periods of time do not always experience the same intense emotions as visitors who live in foreign countries for longer terms. The adjustment stages during prolonged stays may last several months to several years. The following «W» shaped diagram illustrates periods of adjustment in a second culture and might apply to a one-year stay (approximately) in a foreign culture. Although the stages in the cycle do not always occur in the same order and some stages may be skipped, the following pattern is a common one:
Each stage in the process is characterized by «symptoms» or outward signs typifying certain kinds of behavior:
(1) Honeymoon period. Initially many people are fascinated and excited by everything new. The visitor is elated to be in a new culture.
(2) Culture shock. The individual is immersed in new problems: housing, transportation, shopping, and language. Mental fatigue results from continuously straining to comprehend the foreign language.
(3)Initial adjustment. Everyday activities such as housing and shopping are no longer major problems. Although the visitor may not yet be fluent in the language spoken, basic ideas and feelings in the second language can be expressed.
(4) Mental isolation. Individuals have been away from their family and good friends for a long period of time and may feel lonely. Many still feel they cannot express themselves as well as they can in their native language. Frustration and sometimes a loss of self-confidence result. Some individuals remain at this stage.
(5) Acceptance and integration. A routine (e.g., work, business, or school) has been established. The visitor has accepted the habits, customs, foods, and characteristics of the people in the new culture. The visitor feels comfortable with friends, associates, and the language of the country.