With the rapid changes in society these days, behavioral scientists have put an increasing emphasis on the diagnosis and treatment of culture shock, those feeing of anxiety and disorientation that affect people who have to suddenly function within a new and different social environment. Culture shock affects individuals who move to another country or sometimes to a different state, for example, from rural North Carolina to urban Southern California. In the case of moving from one country to another, culture shock oftentimes takes on a severe form.
There are three main phases of culture shock and sufferers do not necessarily pass through all of them. They are explained here in layman’s terms.
The Honeymoon Phase is usually the first phase of culture shock. When someone is in this state, he considers the differences between his new environment and his old one as wonderful and romantic. He views his new surroundings as a welcome and pleasant change. He may fall in love with the new pace of his life, the new people he meets and the new relationships he develops. Overall, he embraces with open arms the lifestyle, environment, food and practically everything about his new environment.
The “Everything is Awful” phase sometimes occurs in a few days, but can also take weeks or even months. In this phase, the differences between the new environment and the old one have become irritating and tiresome, especially the minor differences. Al of a sudden, one finds himself longing for a taste of the food back home or for the friends that he left behind. Suddenly, the pace and lifestyle of his new life are either too slow or too fast. The habits of his new acquaintances have become annoying. The novelty of the new place has worn off.
The “Everything is OK” phase, like the previous phase, may take days, weeks or months to manifest itself. At this stage, one has learned to adjust to the new surroundings and overcome his feeling of homesickness. He has become accustomed to the new routines and rhythms of his new society. In fact, at this point, he may no longer consider it as a new society, but rather as his new home. His concerns now revert back to the everyday business of basic living, same as in his previous environment.
Finally, there is also Reverse Culture Shock, which is when he feels any or all of the above phases upon his return to his old environment.