The Odyssey Guide to Culture Shock

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Fraser Clarke

Preparing for a move overseas? You’ll likely have thought long and hard about your end destination in order to make sure that it’s definitely right for you. No matter how well you’ve researched it however you’ll likely still experience the four stages of Culture Shock - so here’s what to expect, and how to get over the tough times.

1 - The Honeymoon

Almost every move starts with the honeymoon period. During this time everything seems magic and you don’t notice the little quirks or differences that will irritate you as time moves along.

Much like going on holiday you are blinded by the excitement of the opportunity to spend time in a new environment. During this stage you will be prepared to turn a blind eye to any noticeable differences, preferring instead to focus on what makes you comfortable.

2 - Irritation and Crisis

As time moves on however the excitement associated with living in a new location will start to wear off, and you’ll begin focusing on the negatives. Suddenly the language barrier becomes extremely frustrating, you find it difficult to get about and you seriously start to miss everything about your home country - even the rain!

At this point homesickness becomes prevalent, and you’ll begin to get irritated by even the smallest things. Stick with it however, because this is the worst stage for most people.

3 - Recovery

The turning point. The stage where you decide whether or not you’re going to stick out this life changing move, or give in and return home.

To some people the decision is simple, they are finding it impossible to settle and returning is the only way out. Most however see this stage as the opportunity to accept a country for what it is, and start to appreciate the differences - even if they do find them frustrating at times.

By this stage you should have a basic knowledge of the language, and are able to find your way about your new location with a bit more confidence. You start to make friends, and generally find yourself settling into the location.

4 - Integration

Often described as a more realistic version of the honeymoon stage, the integration stage is where you start to become a more active member of society. You start to meet new people, take part in new activities and are open to the new way of life that living overseas can provide.

That’s not to say that it isn’t difficult at times. There will still be challenges, however by this stage you’re prepared to meet them head-on and are excited about the opportunities that lie ahead. 

Have you experienced culture shock and have advice on how to get over it? Drop us a message on social media and we’ll publish the best on our website.