Notes on the Topic of Cross-Cultural Adjustment:
- Cross-cultural adjustment is often a gradual and ongoing process filled with a variety of feelings such as happiness, excitement, anticipation, fear, tension, confusion, restlessness, frustration, etc.
- Almost all people in a “new” culture experience some form of “culture shock.” This is normal! Don’t be surprised if you experience decreased productivity, missing things from home (e.g., food, customs or traditions, people, etc.), disillusionment, boredom, depression, problems with sleep, or the urge to want to “escape” (mentally or physically).
- Cultural adjustment does not happen in all areas of life at the same time in set stages. Some adaptation can happen quite quickly, while difficulties may persist for some other things despite several months (or even years) in a different country, culture, and the like.
- It is important to take positive, healthy steps to assist in the cross-cultural adjustment process. Examples include keeping in touch with things and people that remind you of home (e.g., phone calls, emails, photographs, movies, music, and books), reminding yourself to be patient, making friends (those who share your background and those who don’t), slowing down and taking your time, being aware of your emotions and thoughts, having a sense of humor, exercising, having realistic expectations, going to counseling or therapy if needed, journaling, avoiding isolation, traveling, volunteering or getting involved in some kind of organization or club, eating well, etc.
- Re-entry Culture Shock: Upon returning home, you will probably experience another adjustment process. Try as much as possible to be prepared. Focus on the positive, note that mixed feelings are likely, be flexible with goals and expectations, be reflective, take your time, share your thoughts, feelings and experiences with others where possible, stay in touch with people and things from the host country and culture, be patient when others do not understand where you are coming from or necessarily want to hear about your experiences, and try your best to deal with possible identity issues.
- 35 More Things I Just Don’t Understand by Dalton Tanonaka: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2009/05/19/35-more-things-i-just-don%E2%80%99t-understand.html (humorous post from an expatriate living in Indonesia)