What is culture shock?

This feeling can happen to travelers, exchange students, people who move to other countries or another part of their home country, or new job starters. You may even experience slight culture shock in conversation with a co-worker from a different culture as they describe certain traditions or other social interactions. Culture Shock is also described as having four stages: honeymoon, negotiation, adjustment, and mastery. Each of these phases can have different outcomes.

Can culture shock be a positive experience as well?

You may not think so given the definition. However, as you move through the stages, and the “shock” begins to lessen, you can reap great benefits from exposure to other cultures.

One such benefit is that the experience can expand your perspective, perception, and even mindset of what another culture is about. In today’s instant media, we often see snippets of other cultures which do not give us the full picture until we actually experience it in some form. Even if you studied in preparation for a trip, it’s still not the same as the real thing. As we gather more information first-hand, we can begin to understand the traditions, food, music and dance, fashion, and other rituals.

Another benefit of exposure to a different culture is that it can encourage self-reflection and introspection, causing an awakening of our cultural consciousness.

Also, the effect can be life-changing. Exposure to another culture can inspire, uplift and cause you to become more appreciative, of life, family or even your own culture.

These benefits can be a direct result of culture shock, and often allow us to embrace and enjoy our new findings with a spirit of adventure.

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