lesson6 Culture Shock
Cause and Symptoms
1.Culture shock might be called an occupationals disease of people who have been suddenly transplanted abroad.Like most diseases,it has its own symptons.
2.Culture shock is caused by the anxiety that results from losing all our familiar signs and symbls of social intercourse.Those signs or cues include the thousand and one ways with which we are familiar in the situation of daily life:when to shake hands and what to say when we meet peple,when and how to give tips,how to go shopping,when to accept and when to refuse invitations,when to take statements seriously and when not.These cues,which may be words,gestures,facial expressions,customs,or norms,are acquired by all of us in the couse of growing up and are as much a part of our culture as the the language we speak or the beliefs we accept.All of us depend for our peace of mind and our efficiency on hundreds of these cues,often with our conscious awareness.
3.Now when a person enters a strange culture,all or most of these familiar cues are removed,He or she is like a fish out of water.no matter how broad-minded or full of goodwill you may be,a series of props have knocked from under you,followed by a feeling of frustration and anxiety.People react to the frustration in much the same way.First they reject the environment which causes the discomfort.“The ways of the host country are bad because they made us feel bad.” When foreigners in a strange land get together to grumble about the host country and its people,you can be sure they are suffering from culture shock.Another symptom of culture shock is regression.To the foreigner everything becomes irrationly glorified.All the difficulties and problems are forgotten and only the good things back home are remembered.It usually takes a trip home to bring one back to reality.
4.Some of the symptoms of culture shock are:excessive washing of the hands;excessive concern over drinking water,food dishes,and bedding;fear of physical contact with attendants;the absent-minded stare;a feeling of helplessness and a desire for dependence on long-term residents of one's own nationality;fits of anger over minor frustrations;great concern over minor pains and eruptions of the skin;and finally,that terribe longing to be back home.
5.Individual differ greatly in the degree in which culture shock affects them.Although not common,there are individual who cannot live in foreign countries.However,those who have seen people go through culture shock and on to a satisfactory adjustment can see steps in the process.
Stages of Adjustment
6.Kalvero Oberg describes four stages that people go through when they experience situations that are very different from those to which they are accustomed.Examples of such situations include moving to a new city,traveling to a new country,and becoming part of a new organization,military unit or corporation.
7.Stage one is a honeymoon phase,during which the new experience is perceived to be interesting,picturesque, entertaining, and charming.You may notice several superficial differences such as music,food and clothing,and the fresh appeal of the new experience keeps you feeling interested and positive.If you are a real tourist,you probably do not stay long enough for this phase to wear off but go on to the next new location or experience.There are people who frequently change jobs,majors,romantic partners,travle plans,clothing styles,foods,diets,or cars so that they never get very far away from the honeymoon stage of culture shock.It is very pleasant to travel and to try out and explore whatever is new.
8.When you stay in a new environment for a while,you move to stage two——the crisis stage——in which the shine wears off and the day-to-day realities sink in.In a relationship,you notice annoying habbits;in a new country,you find barriers to establishing connections or to learning the language beyond a few polite phrases.Suddenly,your new major includes a class or a professor you dislike.The difficulties and unpleasantness of realities replace the charming and picturesque“honeymoon.' However,if you stick with the experience and try to deal with it realistically,you will probably move to the third phase of culture shock:reovery.
9.In recovery,you learn the systems,procedures,language,or nonverbal behaviors of the new environment so that you can cope with it on the basis of some mastery,competence,and comfort.After about two weeks in London,I began to feel familiar with traveling by 'tube,“ shopping nearly every day for groceries,paying in the correct currency,buying a newspaper,and using some phrases that are unique to English people.I had the advantage of speaking the same basic language and of sharing a great deal with the English in some broad,cultural aspects.In a country that was very different from my own,it would probably have taken me longer to move into the recovery phase.
10.Finally,the fourth,or adjustment,phase occurs when you feel that you function well and almost automaticlly in the new culture.You no longer need to make mental conversions of the country's money;you know where services are located and how to use them;you understand some of the customs that cocompany ordinary life,and it is relatiely easy for you to adjust to them.A greater enjoyment of the new experience is now possible,and you may regain some of the initial positive regard you had in the honeymoon stage.If you stay long enough on a vist from a big city to a small town,or,the other way round,you may become so well adapted to the new environment that when you return to your orignal home,you will again experience culture shock.For some people,it may take several days to readjust.depending on the length of time they were away.Usually,however,since you are in your home culture,your shock wears off faster than the shock that you experienced in the new culture.