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The Roller Coaster of Acculturation

It has its ups. It has its This process has been studied
Potential Signs
of Culture downs. Few symbols fit as and experienced by a multi-
Shock: appropriately as a roller coast- tude of people around the
er to the process of adjusting world.
to a new culture.
Anxiety The stages have been broken
Defined, acculturation is the down in various ways,
process by which people mi- but the most commonly
Isolation grate to and learn a culture identified (and predicta-
that is different from their ble) stages follow:
own (Heine, 2012, p. 386).




Stage 1: Honeymoon Stage 2: Culture Shock Stage 3: Adjustment

During the initial stage of accultura- Eventually the newness of experi- Usually people will move through
tion, the newcomer is excited about ence wears off and newcomers grad- culture shock to the next phase
the differences he/she experiences ually stop enjoying the differences. which is known as adjustment.
and finds them interesting and ap-
pealing, rather than frustrating. Sometimes the realization that ones Adjustment happens gradually, often
language skills are not sufficient for over the course of years. People start
For this reason, this period has been the purposes of the visit/move can to feel better and find confidence in
aptly named the honeymoon stage. usher this stage in a bit faster. the knowledge that they are able to
solve problems.
Many people who travel to another Known as culture shock, this phase
country often have this feeling and can last several months to several Usually they will have been in the
leave with positive feelings about years. Homesickness sets in and new culture long enough to develop
international travel, as most trips individuals might feel depressed, friendships, improve language skills,
that people take are too short to angry, resentful, and helpless. and become interested in local
exceed the honeymoon stage. events/news.
Depending upon an individuals
personality and circumstances, he/ Most people report an awareness that
she may make the decision to return their thinking has changed in some
to the home country. way that reflects the local norms.

Heine, S.J. (2012). Cultural psychology (2nd ed.). New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.

Newsletter created by: Danielle Bergez, Academic Liaison for International Student Support,

Important Points to Remember

The stages of acculturation can
vary in length, depending on a
variety of factors.
The boundaries of each stage are
not fixed. An individual may
seem to be moving out of the
culture shock phase and then
encounter an experience that
seems to pull him/her back.
Others can be empathetic and
supportive of an individual going
through culture shock, but they
cannot prevent someone from
experiencing this stage.

Advice for Dealing with Culture Shock

Learn about the stages of accul- Do not isolate yourself! It is im- Refrain from judgement and try
turation before moving. Know- portant to continue to try to make to cultivate curiosity. When
ing that the feelings you experi- connections with friends and with things are done differently, there
ence are normal can relieve some the community. Think before is probably a reason. Trying to
anxiety. you start your experience about learn what that reason is will help
how you will try to get involved dissipate the negativity.
Take care of your health. Bother- in your new environment.
some colds and aches/pains can
sometimes come along with the Set up a routine of activities so
period of culture shock. Staying that your schedule starts to feel
active and eating properly will familiar, thus lending a sense of
help with stress and stress-related comfort.

Advice for Helping Someone Experiencing Culture Shock

If you know someone who has Try to remember that frustration to foster a friendly, supportive
recently arrived from another and a short temper can be a sign environment.
country, share the tips above with that someone is going through
him/her. culture shock. Getting angry in
reply will not help the situation.
If someone you know from an-
other country suddenly starts Sometimes a friendly smile and
acting more withdrawn, make an genuine interest in another person
effort to draw him/her out in can do wonders to change his/her
conversation or in an activity. day.
Encourage your acquaintance to Try going out of your way to be
talk about what aspects of life in welcoming to anyone who is new
the US are bothering him/her. to the campus. A minute or two
Its likely you can shed some light reflecting on how you would feel in
on why things are done a certain a similar situation will be beneficial
way. in helping you to think about how

Newsletter created by: Danielle Bergez, Academic Liaison for International Student Support,