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Friday, October 3, 2008

Culture Shock Part 2

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Major Problems That You Feel
You Need To Cope With

There are three major problems that you feel you need to cope with.
They are:

1. Other people's behaviour does not make any sense. Host country, colleagues, neighbours and staff do things that baffle you and confuse you about their intended goal.

2. What you know about your own behaviour and reactions do not produce the expected results with persons from the host country and

3. It becomes more difficult to find ready-made answers or solutions to the new demands of your day-to-day existence. ii

As this period continues,
You wonder how you were so blind as to not see the problems that occur in the host country. You experience a real sapping of your energy from just daily existence. Goals and hopes for the future become less clear. You begin to grieve the loss of the familiar comforts of home, especially the social interaction of friends and family. Individuals in the family may react differently to this stage. Those fortunate enough to have a routine of work or school may have an easier transition. Unresolved marital and relationship issues may resurface during this stage as the family experiences more and more stress. Adolescents may 'act-out' their frustrations in anti-social ways.

For some, a real crisis can occur.
Strong emotions can take over such as anger towards the perceived irrational, behaviour of the host country inhabitants; depression at finding yourself unable to complete simple or routine tasks and panic at the prospect of the ruin of your sanity, health, career and family. This stage, the very bottom of the adaptation curve, may be accompanied by symptoms of ill-health, overindulgence in alcohol or food, conflict with family, peers and nationals, withdrawal, overspending and many tears. iii

The third stage is when you find,
Yourself in direct confrontation with the host country culture. Sometimes the options seem scarce. You can wait it out until things start to get better of their own accord, or you can take evasive action. Unfortunately, for some, evasive action means just that - taking the first flight home. Others find a congenial retreat of like-minded souls and spend the rest of their stay as far as possible from inhabitants of the host country. Those who make the most complete and successful adaptation, however, are the people who find ways to communicate across cultural barriers. iv
Other dysfunctional reaction to

Cultural adjustment are aggressiveness and dependence. Aggressive behaviour portrayed not only towards members of the host country, but also towards family members and other expatriate peers. Aggressive behaviour may get someone's attention and quick results, but at the expense of the long-term benefit of developing communication skills which foster trust and mutual respect.

Regression into dependent behaviour may feel safe and secure, however, this posture can increase the burden on the family member or friend. When significant persons feel overwhelmed with responsibility, they begin to resent the dependent person and shy away from contact. The strategy of depending on others for assistance in adjusting can back fire, leaving the person feeling even more isolated.

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