Understanding and Challenging Culture Shock
AbstractIn the last four decades culture shock has become an underlying part of the international travelers’ vocabulary and is now frequently used to describe any physical or emotional discomfort experienced by those adjusting to a new environment. In the works on culture shock we single out three basic causes: (1) the loss of familiar cues, (2) the breakdown of interpersonal communication, (3) an identity crisis. Coping strategies should be actions which could lead to self-control to respond to a situation. One is unable to change another culture, and the purpose of cross-cultural adaptation is not to avoid the people in the host culture, but to increase interaction with the local people. Another effective strategy is to learn something about the new culture before leaving home. It helps to predict reactions to stress. This information may help diminish negative stereotypes and give some confidence. The disposition to judge others in terms of one’s own cultural expectations (ethnocentrism) is diminished if we have some predeparture, culture-specific knowledge. Each of us can develop our own coping strategies. Like the cold, there is no tangible cure, but understanding the system provides us with a sense of control and helps us to work out some new cross-cultural skill.