Culture shock is one of the most grueling experience an individual has to go through when moving to a new location. In this week´s journal I will talk about my experience with culture shocks, how I overcame them and compare my journey with the model of the Expatriate Adjustment.
I had to endure this feeling multiple times before coming to London and to Hult. As we moved a lot as a family, I had to get comfortable with new surroundings very often. Every time I encountered a new environment, mixed feelings came up. Someone could call these experiences “mini culture shocks”, as they were not caused because of a change in culture. The differences were only of subcultural nature, since we moved inside of Bavaria. The real culture shock with all its effects came when I moved to the United States and also most recently, London.
The symptoms I can relate to most are isolation, irritability and homesickness. I had to undergo each of those on a weekly, if not daily basis. Being irritated is one of the most common symptoms for me. It comes as no surprise, since the norms and behaviors of people change not only from country to country, but also from region to region. This creates confusion, as the people approach many aspects of life differently. It did not take long to make friends, after arriving to the United States; neither did it take long to also realize major differences. I was invited to a Thanksgiving get-together. I met a lot of kind people and got along with them quite well. Before leaving their house, I was invited to go ice fishing with them in the winter. They promised me to call me as soon as possible. Needless to say, the people never contacted me and thus I never went ice fishing. This experience left me irritated. If a German promised you to do something or invited you to a certain occasion, he will keep his promise and make it happen. It might take longer than a day for him to do so, but when he does, he is absolutely serious about the invitation. That is why I was not only startled about how quickly they decided to invite me, but also that they never actually kept the promise. I did not experience a lot of irritation in London yet. The experiences I had in the past possibly helped me to circle those irritations.
Homesickness is one symptoms nobody is or should be exempt of. It will certainly occur in some point of your new experience. What does homesickness really mean? Does it mean you miss your home and your family? Does it mean you miss your old environment? Or does it simply mean you do not like your new surroundings? For me, it is a mix of all those aspects. First of all, there is no timetable for homesickness. It can come and go at any time. It usually does not occur in the first 2-3 weeks, mainly because you are excited about the new development in your life and also busy with organizing yourself. After this so called Honeymoon Phase, I will definitely crash with homesickness. The level of intensity can vary. The most common...