Australia Culture Shock
Any time you move to a new place or country, you are bound to face some anxiety and stress, otherwise known as culture shock. It can manifest itself as unease or unfamiliarity with a place, and will often be felt in the first few weeks of living in a new place.
But don’t worry! It is only temporary, and there are lots of resources and places to go to get help with feeling worried or homesick. And it is all worth it for the chance to learn new skills and perspectives on the world other than your home country.
There are many symptoms which can help identify culture shock. A major feeling can be homesickness, or missing your culture and family. Some of these may include feeling frustrated or anxious with the new place. You may feel a lack of direction, and confusion about how to do things in your new culture. You might not know what is the right or wrong thing to do in a new country or place. It can be a very confusing time, during which you feel sad, lonely or melancholy. You can even feel aches and pains more intensely. You may experience mood swings, during which you may feel depressed, vulnerable or powerless. Below is a list of further symptoms you may experience:
- You may feel moody and irritable, and feel unwilling to relate to others
- You might romanticize your home country over your new environment
- You may experience difficulty sleeping
- A loss of identity or self can be felt
- You might feel less confident in yourself, and find it harder to solve simple problems
- Feeling incompetent or unsure of yourself
- Creating typecasts about the new country you find yourself in
- Feeling unseen, exploited or ill-treated.
It is perfectly normal to experience any or all of these emotions when relocating to a new place. In fact, it can be broken down into different stages which can be ongoing, or manifest themselves only at certain times.
1. The Honeymoon Phase
During this time, you will see the differences between your old culture and the new culture you find yourself in as exciting and new. You might find the new food or lifestyle exciting, and eager to absorb the new surroundings such as buildings and cityscapes, or even the pace of life.
2. The ‘Everything is Awful’ Phase
This may come on during your rime overseas when the many differences between cultures begin to add up. You might have a difficult time with something or a crisis in your day to day life, and experience negative emotions because of that. An example could be a difficulty with the language barrier, or when things that you previously believed to be great start to bother you.
3. The ‘Everything is OK’ Phase
This phase will develop as you gradually become accustomed to the differences in this new culture. You will develop daily routines, and gain better understanding of the culture. At this point you may develop feelings of contentment and psychological balance, and will no longer react to the new culture either positively or negatively because you will become accustomed to it. You will then develop basic living patterns similar to your life in your home culture.
There are many ways to help yourself overcome the obstacle of culture shock. You can prepare yourself before you even reach the new culture by reading about it and familiarizing yourself with the new culture’s language and customs. You can also read further into culture shock and learn how it may affect yourself so that you can recognize these effects on yourself. Remain patient, and try to be yourself, while you adapt to your new environment. It is also important to take time out to relax and sleep to lower anxiety or stress levels. It can also help to remain in touch with friends and family at home. It can also help to set yourself some goals, and make plans for the future that you can get excited about, like travelling in your new country.
But don’t put too much pressure on yourself at first. Any new environment will be different to what you’re used to, and you can expect yourself to be low and sad at times, but don’t allow yourself to feel it for long! If you maintain confidence in yourself and admit that culture shock is a temporary state, you are on the right track to overcoming any culture shock that may occur.
There are many ways to help speed along the process of adjustment in a new country. A great way to integrate into a new society and meet people is to join clubs or societies and volunteer in community activies. This also allows you to practice a new language! Sporting clubs are also a great way to meet people and get in some exercise, thus boosting your happy hormones. If you focus your energies on getting through the first hump of culture shock, you will get through it, and maybe speed the process on the way.
But you’re not alone in any of this! You can find help for culture shock from a number of resources. There are resources online, and there will be more available at your chosen university or educational institution to help you adjust to your new country and area, and get through the stages of culture shock. Take a look at information given out at orientation and enrolment sessions. Workshops and Seminars are often put on to give you more information. Look for International office staff members to help you out. There will also be health and counseling services available. And finally, student groups and mentors are also there to help you.
So remember that culture shock is just a temporary thing, very commonly experienced by people living in a new culture. Armed with the right information and attitude you can get through it.
Culture Shock Australia
This can be defined as the anxious feeling experienced by persons who has moved to an environment which is new to him/ her. It is normally experienced in the first days of getting into a different environment. This however is a completely normal feeling and does not last long. You can be sure of that. No two places in the world are the same and therefore it may take you time to adjust. Give yourself this time and everything will be alright.
- Having feelings of frustration and anxiety
- Feeling that you lack direction
- Not knowing your immediate cause of action
- Having no knowledge of what is correct or wrong in your new environment
However much culture shock is unpleasant, the good side of it is the fact that it gives you the chance to get new perspectives in life and experience life differently.
Some of the main symptoms associated with culture shock include:
- Feeling sad and lonely
- Being preoccupied with health issues
- Having aches and pains with or without allergies
- Suffering from insomnia where you feel sleepy or completely lack sleep.
- Feelings of depression and vulnerability
- Irritability accompanied by anger and not interacting with others
- Tendencies to idealize your old country and identifying with your old culture.
- Losing your identity
- Trying very hard to absorb many things in the your new country/location
- Inability to deal with small problems
- Erosion of your confidence
- Feeling insecure and inadequate
- Stereotyping the new different culture
- Getting obsessed with certain things for instance with cleanliness
- Getting feelings of home sickness and longing for your family members
- Feeling that one is overlooked and abused
Anyone travelling and living in another country with completely different surroundings can feel out of place and they can begin to experience anxiety.
This overwhelming feeling is called cultural shock and it can lead to more serious conditions such as depression. Go To Australia Agency understands this and we try to minimise this from happening by providing all our interns with a professional counselling service throughout their stay in Australia.
However, there are also things that you can do to minimise cultural shock. For example, before your departure, you should find out all you can about Australia, the Australian people, the etiquettes and the diversity that constitutes Australia etc. It is also very important to have an open mind when you are in Australia. Try to look at things in a positive way and accept similarities and differences between you and anyone or anything you encounter along the way.
Different Stages of the Culture Shock
Different people react differently to culture shock but generally, there are stages of culture shock that research and observation has found common to most people. These stages would manifest themselves at different times.
The first stage is called Honeymoon phase and as the name suggest it is when people will be having a good time experiencing the new culture and embrace the new environment with open arms-one would love the cuisines, the new scenes and people’s way of doing things. Everything just appears exciting.
In the second stage, once the harmony is over and realities starts to take centre stage and after a while one starts to make comparison with his home culture and as it often said “east or west home is best”. This when you start to experience language barriers, even when you speak the same language minor difference will always be there and this where your patience starts to run out and you start getting annoyed, sad and uncomfortable.
With the passage of time, one would slowly start to get familiar with the new culture and accept it. Here you would have a better understanding of the new culture, and get into the routines of the new culture. At this stage, you would take the new culture as normal and your focus shifts from the concerns of culture change to the basics of life, just as you would in your home country.
The question that begs an answer is -how does one cope with the culture shock? and as it is the norm with solving any problem in life, the first and foremost things is to get as much information and facts about the culture as possible, you can read or talk to people that are familiar with the culture, try and be flexible and embrace change but don’t try to copy others just be yourself. If you are away from your family members, keep contact with them. Do exercise even if simple exercise, do not rush things, have patience, ensure that you have adequate sleep.
If you have migrated to another country for economic reason- have confidence and focus and do not be overambitious, be realistic in your goals.
It is important that one make an effort to adjust by reading books, getting information from the internet. If you are a student in a foreign country then you can seek for information from your learning institution. You can seek for counseling- join students groups. The most important things is to recognize that it may take time to adjust and you must make an effort you don’t want to go into a foreign country and ten years down the line you still don’t understand the language.
Culture Shock Experience
It is a fact that different continents, countries and even towns have different cultures or their natural way of doing things, and as one shifts from one country to another, one is often bond to encounter a culture shock. Let me borrow from my own personal experience, I was born and raised in Kenya and spent virtually all my life in the city of Nairobi, before going to England for my further studies. When I first arrived in England, it was shocking completely meeting different people from all comers of the world, the foods were all different-a cup of tea that I bought for 10 pence was now about 10 times the cost. I would not understand the accents-especially given the fact that most people had different accents, people seemed to be very busy. In this present times where people are migrating and emigrating from one country to another at unabated level, culture shock to many would be a household name.
Some of the common signs of culture shock are - one becomes confused as to what is right and wrong, what is accepted and what is not, one loses the sense of direction, one gets frustrated. Different people react directly to changes in culture and others take a very short time to adjust while others may take a longer time. Some cultures are also very similar and it would not be hard to adjust while others would pose a greater challenge.
There are people that enjoy experiencing other different cultures and would react positively viewing it as an opportunity to learn other new cultures, while others would react negatively, it is often evident that majority of people do not like change. When faced with cultural difference, some people would often become lonely-especially when people do not understand your language. It also generally takes time and a lot of effort to learn a new language, this make one sad, depressed and have changes in their body temperature and sleeping patterns-with some sleeping for longer hours than usual, and others sleeping for less hours than usual. This when people would start to realize how wonderful their home countries are, and would start feeling Home sick, you often hear people frequently talking or referring to their homes.
All this if not properly managed would compromise one’s health. All said and done one must put some effort to understand and adjust to the new culture when one has to move from one area to another, one must try mitigating the negative effects of culture shock by doing something constructive.