Cultural shock

“There is nothing permanent except change”

If you have been abroad or you want to leave you have surely heard about the so-called cultural shock, that is the disorientation you feel when you live in a social and cultural environment different from yours. You have also heard about the four phases that distinguish it (honeymoon, crisis, adjustment, acceptance/adaptation). Having already had other experiences abroad, I know very well how these phases work and I can describe them from my point of view.

1)   I can’t wait to leave!

In general this is the recurring sentence before the departure. In this phase you see only the negative aspects of your country (in my case ones of Italy) and you are impatient to prepare your luggage and leave for any destination daydreaming about how it will be, what I will do, who I will meet etc.

2)   What made me do it??

The initial enthusiasm is replaced by the frustration of feeling constantly out of place (even the fog of the first weeks didn’t help me a lot). I wonder how I’ll succeed to survive without pasta with tomato or Italian coffee so long. Even doing shopping or buying a bus’ ticket becomes an insuperable challenge but luckily, being Italian, speaking with gestures allows me to overcome any misunderstanding with success!

3)   I see the light at the end of the tunnel!

The critical phase has passed. Now you start to see everything in a positive way although there are some difficulties that do not seem so insuperable. The road goes down from now on!!

4)   Home sweet home.

In this phase you are totally adapted and you feel at home. At this point you know everyone and you are very busy. The days pass with all speed and, before you know it, the day to come back home (I mean the real one) has arrived. The sadness to leave everything and everyone joints the awareness of have found another “homeland”, other friends, another family that will add to those you already have and those you will meet in the future.

 

Each person spend different time to move from one phase to another. For example, I am already in the third phase. I have opted for a life philosophy that Heraclitus has well expressed in only one sentence: There is nothing permanent except change”. I want to change, and you?

 Monia de Marcellis

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