I remember the day I was going to start for a high school in Switzerland. I was so happy that I was away from home and my parents would not know what I was doing. My enthusiastism did not last long. In the course of time, I faced difficulties. In addition, I felt that I did not belong to this school that was full of international students. As I remember, I have challenged with a new language that put me in an evil situation. I thought I could not take it anymore and I asked myself “How did I go through that situation?” Culture shock can be considered as a rain that rains rarely in a city. It is kind of a rule that people often face difficulties and get over with it. First of all, the honeymoon process is not long which puts the person in a culture shock. Three ideas that people move from the stage Honeymoon to Culture shock are because they are disappointed about new things that they don’t expect, becoming sick and not adjusting to the differences between two cultures.
First, disappointment is the common factor that changes the situations of the people who are on the stage Honeymoon. According to Oberg, people lose their signs and cues when they get too much troubled and worried (74d). When a person faces a difficulty that he/she has never faced before, the effect can make the person think exaggeratedly. As a result, in that situation people can not focus on what they are doing. Oberg adds “these cues (signs), which may be words, gestures, facial expressions, customs, or norms, are acquired by all of us in the course of growing up and are as much as a part of our culture as the language we speak or the beliefs we accept”(74d). The culture that the person grew up, usually does not match with another culture so that the person gets surprised and annoyed. In addition, according to Holvino, disappointment depends on the differences and similarities that will expose the person’s ways of doing things in the old culture and the new one (68). If the person often faces difficulties, the person can become sick after a while.
Second, when the foreigner is not satisfied as he/she hoped, the person might go in depression. Thus, time should pass to calm one’s frustration down. In that period of time the person might want to give up and go back to his/her country. Oberg explains that with the anger and nervousness the person can lose control of acts so that the person begins criticizing the people, country and the culture (75). The person doesn’t want to realize the good side of a new culture. It is very easy for her/him to criticize the new culture, because the person thinks her/his culture is better. Moreover, the person tries to find international students for himself, to share his difficulties to make him/her comfortable. The person gets angry very quickly which can put the person in serious problems. Instead of changing and modifying himself, he criticizes the new culture. Reid adds that foreign students do not have enough cultural background experience that would help them to write an essay (79). Poor writing ability can make students angry. The students from other culture do not fallow instructions of what the professor has given; they do it by their way. They feel depressed and confused when they get bad grades. In addition to becoming sickness, foreign people have hard time getting away from the anger.
Third, differences between two cultures cause difficulties for visitors. Sometimes the person might be familiar to a new culture, also can be a stranger to a new culture. Obviously, the person who is more familiar to a new culture will adjust more quickly than the person who is a stranger to a new culture. Wilson emphasizes that because the cultures are different, people will not find out when to say “yes” and “no”, when to accept and refuse or when to shake hands or cuddle (65). Consequently, the person should be aware of what he/she is doing to approach people. Otherwise, misunderstandings might occur and the person will feel wrong. Dodge explains that many foreign students are having a hard time in classrooms and dormitories (72). American customs usually does not match with foreign customs so that they cannot feel comfortable. People learn how to act and approach to people by making mistakes. Everybody makes mistakes, the visitor will learn quicker by making mistakes as she/he goes along.
As we have seen, no matter what the visitor knows or do, the person struggles in a new culture in a foreign country. It is sure that the person learns from mistakes. The person should be aware of how to approach people and be patient with difficulties. What happened to me was, that time and patience took me from that culture shock, which everybody will achieve eventually. I am glad that I have gone through culture shock and I am also glad that I have experienced it. Therefore, anyone who are disappointed in a new culture should be eager to accomplish the process, they will not regret it.
Oberg, Kalvero. “Culture Shock and the Problem of Adjustment in New Cultural Environments” Intercultural Communication, 1972.
Reid, Joy M. “English as a Second Language Composition in Higher Education: The Expectations of the Academic Audience” Richness in writing, 1989.
Wilson, Susan. “Cultural Adjustment” Culture Magazine, August 1989.
Holvino, Evangelina. “Cultural Adjustment Styles” Sunrise Seminars, 1983.
Dodge, Susan. “Cultural Shock and Alientation Remain Problems for Many Foreign Students on U.S. Campuses” Chronical of Higher Education, March 1993.