Culture shock refers to feelings of anxiety, depression, or confusion that often go along with adjusting to life in a foreign country.  The process of adjustment can be broken down into three stages:  The Honeymoon Stage, The Negotiation or Frustration Stage, and the Understanding or Acclimation Stage.

The Honeymoon stage generally occurs when you first arrive in your new country with vigor to experience a new culture.  “Symptoms” include an eagerness to learn the language, a love of the food, pace of life, habits, architecture, etc., and an excitement to experience as much as possible of the new country.  Why can’t honeymoons last forever?

The frustration stage can be expected to set in within weeks of your arrival as the initial enthusiasm begins to wear off.  During this stage, you begin to resent characteristics about the culture that you originally found appealing.  You may also feel homesick or become frustrated with the process of learning the language.  Mood swings and feelings of depression are not uncommon.  You may realize that you’re actually very lonely when your husband is away at the mine in Cajarmarca and wrongly resent him for it.  Some people have been known to have difficulty keeping their regular blog.

During the frustration stage, you might be so preoccupied with your feelings of sadness and loneliness that you get lost on your way to meet your friend, and then forget your apartment keys in the taxi you took to help you find the spot.  You might even sprint four blocks after the taxi, pushing people out of the way, crying and screaming in English “STOP!  MY KEYS!  MY HUSBAND IS IN CAJAMARCA!  I DON’T HAVE A SPARE!” only to have the taxi continue to drive away leaving you looking like a crazy person, crying hysterically on the sidewalk blubbering “I hate Peru!”

DiversityAbroad.com assures readers that the frustration stage occurs to millions of people and offers suggestions for coping.  It recommends that you try not to blame your host county (or husband) for your frustrations and to remember that adjusting to a new environment takes time.  The best way to handle it is to try your best to stay positive and focused on all of the new people, food, and experiences you’re having.  It also suggests keeping a journal…hmmm….or blog?

Fortunately, eventually most people who study, work, or travel abroad reach the Acclimation Stage.  This is when you begin to feel more comfortable functioning in your host country.  You build up a network of friends and have a better understanding of the language.  You feel relaxed in your environment and are able to compare both the good and bad of your native country with the good and bad of your host country.

Posted by Danielle L. Krautmann on 4 March, 2010

I have receive more than 30 messages via email and Facebook over the past two weeks asking me what happened to my blog.   I’m sorry I haven’t written much lately.  I’ve been in a slump.   I intend to resume more regular entries and look forward to telling about my Spanish classes and our recent vacation in Arequipa and Colca Canyon.  Stay tuned!

-Danielle