Adapting to living in a new culture is always difficult, and impacts different people in different ways. The following stages are ones many people experience in their attempt to become accustomed to a new place.
This stage is characterized by exhilaration, anticipation, and excitement. The individual is generally fascinated with everything that is new. Most people in this stage are concerned with pleasing others. In their enthusiasm to please, however, they may pretend to understand things when they really do not. Once these misunderstandings begin to build up, they will probably experience the second state of cultural adjustment.
The hostility stage is characterized by frustration, anger, anxiety, and sometimes depression. The individual becomes frustrated with bureaucracy and weary of speaking and listening in English every day. Sleep patterns may become disrupted, and the individual may be unable to eat.
At this point, people often react to their frustration by rejecting the new environment in which they feel discomfort. The reasoning might be, "If I feel bad, it's because of them." They might feel that their external environment is to blame for their bad feelings. There may be displays of hostility toward the people of the new culture. Some of these hostilities may be translated into periods of anger over minor frustrations, excessive fear and mistrust of the new culture, lack of interest, lack of motivation, and at worst, complete withdrawal.
The individual begins to relax in the new environment and is able to laugh at mistakes and misunderstandings that previously caused a great deal of stress in the hostility stage. This more relaxed stage occurs after the individual has made some friends and is better able to manage in the new environment.
The home stage occurs when the individual can feel comfortable in the new environment while retaining allegiance to the home culture. The person has successfully adjusted to the norms and standards of the new culture, and should be commended for the ability to live successfully in two cultures.
Office of International Student Programs
Kanbar Campus Center, suite 102
Office hours: 9am to 5pm
Director of International Student Programs