This is the first in a 3-part (for now) series on, as you’ve no doubt guessed from the title, culture shock. It’s taken from some assignments I did for HQ a while back as part of the internship program I’m in. Here in part one, I’ll give an overview of what I think culture shock is, in part two delve a little deeper, and in part three talk about my personal experiences. Feel free to comment if you’ve dealt with culture shock yourself before.
I remember coming to Japan the first time and people asking me if I was experiencing any culture shock. Honestly, I didn’t think I was, but on the other hand, though I’d heard the term thrown around, I never really knew what it meant.
So what exactly is culture shock anyway? I would define culture shock as any stress, discomfort or agitation caused by cultural differences when living or visiting a place that is culturally different from your home. This could happen after moving across the country or around the world, and could range in severity from mild irritation to emotional breakdown. It’s the tension that happens when different cultures come in contact with each other.
Culture shock, then, as broadly defined above, is something that we all experience when moving into another culture. The specific form it takes will differ from person to person. The severity of our culture shock will depend on our individual personalities, weaknesses and strengths. It will also depend on just how different our new host culture is from our home culture and on how immersed we are in the host culture.
Whatever form or severity it takes, culture shock is pretty much inevitable when you make your home on foreign soil.