Culture shock – the struggle is real

Posted by on Aug 6, 2014 in China, Travel | 0 comments

Culture shock – the struggle is real

Culture shock occurs when you experience a foreign environment that has a different culture to where you are from, for me this was moving to Beijing, China.

Psychologists have identified four main phases that make up the roller-coaster experience that is culture shock.


1. Honeymoon phase

You may have also experienced this phase with relationships in your life.  This is the time where everything is new and exciting, and it feels like life is just one big adventure.  The differences in culture seem endearing and fascinating, often impressive.  Moving to China this is when you can’t get enough of Beijing duck and Tsingtao, and even the smog is seen through your rose coloured glasses and you call it “fog” instead.


2. Withdrawal phase

After the excitement has worn off, things don’t seem quite so charming anymore.  Now things strike you as offensive and unacceptable, feelings of frustration and anger bubble up.  You’re angry that there are only dirty squat toilets with no toilet paper, that people spit on the street, and that waiters don’t offer you more drinks, because none of this would be acceptable back home.


3. Adjustment phase

Now you’re beginning to feel like you belong, you’ve settled into a routine and become more confident in your surroundings.  Tolerance levels go back up, and even your sense of humour about life returns.  I’d say this is the stage we are in after 6 months of living here.


4. Assimilation phase

The final stage is when you feel completely at home in your new surroundings.  The things that made you turn into the hulk in the withdrawal phase are now insignificant.  You’ve realised there are aspects of the new culture that you actually prefer to your own, and you’ve incorporated many of the local behaviours.

If you were to return to your home county, you would in fact now experience reverse culture shock – and the cycle would start all over again!


Beijing, China


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