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An Overview of Cultural Shock

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According to the article written by Winkelman (1994), cultural shock is an all-round experience resulted by various factors in which in contact with other culture. The reactions of culture shock may lead to psychological or physical disorder if it obstructs our performance. Having the awareness of cultural shock and implementing the strategies to overcome that issue are needed to reach the stable adaptations. There are three key elements to help raising the understanding about cultural shock: the nature, stages, and causes of cultural shock.

Cultural shock naturally is the concept of stress and anxiety escalation resulted from the contact of one individual with a new culture. This situation challenges one individual to live in a new environment aside from his acquainted home culture. There are various responses to this; it affects both one’s psychological, physiological, and other social factors.

There are four primary stages of cultural shock. The honeymoon or tourist phase is the first stage of cultural shock that typically experienced by people who penetrate with other culture in short time. The experience in this stage is generally exciting and fascinating and the intake of other culture is still limited. The reason is because the local culture is concealed by the institutions such as hotels, resorts, or airports. Secondly, the crises phase may arise right on arrival or to next few weeks or month. It generally emerges because of problems’ escalation of negative experiences that can make an individual wants to go back to the home country. Acceptable of the new culture will lead to the effective adjustment of new environment. Thus, the third stage is named adjustment and reorientation phase where one individual has realized that to ease the adjustment is by accepting it. The fourth stage is the adaptation, resolution, or acculturation stage. The adjustment of the new culture may lead to the establishment of bicultural identity of one’s self; therefore, positive reaction is required for the adaptation’s effectivity.

In order to overcome cultural shock, we need to identify the causes. There are four major factors that cause cultural shock: stress reactions, cognitive fatigue, role shock, and personal shock. Adapting to a new culture may result the reaction of stress by both physiologically and psychologically. Stress might reduce the immune system and increase the level of anxiety. Secondly, cognitive fatigue may occur in the process of understanding each aspects of the new culture that require strong effort and concentration. As a result, the intensity usually causes mental and emotional exhaust. Third, one can also experience a role shock. Role shock basically caused when one is unready with the new cultural arrangement that might not suit the previous one’s role and expectations. Personal shock is the last primary cause of cultural shock. This experience occurs because the new culture disrupts one’s fundamental belief, principle, or value.

In conclusion, this article defines that cultural shock will arise if one individual is not ready to accept the recent situation and do not try to adapt with the new local culture. Adjustment will definitely occur, and generally it is classified in four primary stages. The explanation regarding causes of cultural shock is also provided in order to help one identify the problem reaction.

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