Culture Shock

Culture shock is the term used to describe the more pronounced reactions to the psychological disorientation most people experience when they move for an extended period of time into a culture markedly different from their own. The best way to get through culture shock is to see it not as an illness but as an opportunity and a natural occurrence in the process of adjusting to a culture that is different from your own.


The Global Experiences web page ( describes the phases of culture shock using the diagram shown here.



They describe the phases as follows:

  1. "The Honeymoon Stage --This is when everything is new and fascinating about your host country. It's in this stage that when you may fall in love with Italian pizza or the Irish accent.
  2. The Distress or Negotiation Stage -- This is when the differences between your home culture and the host country become apparent and feelings of frustration or anxiety occur. For example, you really want a peanut butter and jelly sandwich to remind you home, but you realize your host country doesn't carry grape jelly anywhere. You become frustrated and even more homesick for familiar foods and grocery stores.
  3. The Autonomy or Adjustment Stage -- At this stage, you become familiar with your surroundings and develop a routine. The same concerns will occur, but you will be better equipped to handle them.
  4. The Independence or Mastery Stage -- No one ever does a complete conversion into a new culture, but eventually, you learn to comfortably adjust to the new environment."

"The easiest way to combat the feelings of boredom, frustration, and homesickness originated from culture shock is by creating new friendships with other program participants or locals. Global Experiences' offers multiple social events and excursions throughout the program so be sure to take advantage of them to help ease the anxiety of living in a new place. Most importantly, go explore your new city and cherish the experience!"