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Understanding and Managing Culture Shock

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1 Understanding and Managing Culture Shock

2 Culture Shock Opening discussion:
Have you ever experienced living and studying in a new culture? How did you feel about it? Have you ever felt a sense of culture shock? Can you think of strategies and personal attitudes that would help you to make culture shock a positive learning experience?


4 Potential Problems Extremely difficult Very difficult
A little difficult Not difficult Differences in weather Being away from the family Differences in the food Different social customs Different living conditions Getting used to new ways of learning Adjusting to new ways of doing things Difficulties in communicating with others

5 Major Topics Defining culture shock Symptoms of culture shock
Cultural transition process Fighting culture shock Describing experiences in a second culture

6 Understanding Culture Shock
A fish out of water: nervous, irritated, uncomfortable A ride on a roller coaster: ups and downs Looking at culture shock negatively: stress, fatigue and tension Looking at culture shock positively: a learning experience

7 Understanding Culture Shock
Kalvero Oberg, a Swedish scholar, coined the term “culture shock” 50 years ago (“culture shock: Adjustment to New Cultural Environment”, 1960): the occupational disease of people who have been suddenly transplanted abroad Disease: a pun: both an ailment with its own symptoms and cure and a feeling of dis-ease, or unsettled uneasiness

8 Culture shock: defining characteristics
1. Culture shock: a stressful transition to an unfamiliar environment 2. ABCs of culture shock: a. Affectively: anxiety, confusion, and desire to be elsewhere b. Behaviorally: confused as to norms and rules c. Cognitively: lack competence to interpret bizarre behaviors

9 Culture shock is a natural process in which an individual learns about oneself and others.
Culture shock is a common experience of people who have been suddenly transplanted abroad. Culture shock is caused by the anxiety that results from losing all the familiar signs and symbols or social contact.

10 Symptoms of Culture Shock
Culture shock refers to phenomena ranging from mild irritability to deep psychological panic and crisis. Culture shock is associated with feelings in the person of estrangement, anger, hostility, indecision, frustration, unhappiness, sadness, loneliness, homesickness, and even physical illness.

11 Symptoms are both physical: too much eating, drinking or sleeping, excessive concern about bedding, headaches, stomachaches, dizziness, sleepiness and psychological: depression, loneliness, withdrawn, anger, aggression, hatred, fear, hostility, homesickness. Glorifying the native culture and emphasizing the negative in the new culture

12 Culture shock: pros and cons
1. Negative implications: psychosomatic problems, affective upheavals, interaction awkwardness, and cognitive exhaustion 2. Effective management brings positive well-being, self-esteem, and behavioral competence

13 Cultural Transition Process
(1) honeymoon period (3) initial adjustment (5) acceptance & integration (2) culture shock (4) depression time

14 Honeymoon period: fascinated, excited, elated
Culture shock: physical and mental fatigue and stress Initial adjustment: beginning to adjust, more comfortable, willing to venture out Mental isolation: lonely, confused identity, frustrated, psychologically isolated Acceptance and integration: establish a routine, accustomed, blended culture identity, multicultural

15 Practical tools for managing Sojourners’ culture shock:
A. Realize culture shock is inevitable B. Culture shock arises due to unfamiliar environment; develop a support network C. Stress is due to acute disorientation regarding unfamiliar norms and scripts; establish contacts with members of host culture D. Intense feeling of incompetence; seek positive mentors E. Transitional affective phase that varies in intensity; maintain sense of humor and emphasize positive aspects of environment

16 Fighting Culture Shock
To facilitate adjustment, one can Recognize that you are experiencing culture shock Develop social relationships with people from one’s own country, with other newcomers, and with members of the new culture Maintain a balance between two cultural patterns of behavior and beliefs Maintain your sense of humor Keep busy Do something you enjoy Try new things and laugh at your errors Be flexible

17 Managing culture shock: initial tips
1. Increase motivation to learn about new culture 2. Keep expectations realistic and increase familiarity with new culture 3. Increase linguistic fluency, understand values linked to behaviors 4. Work on tolerating ambiguity and other flexibility attributes 5. Develop close friends and acquaintanceships to manage loneliness 6. Suspend ethnocentric evaluations of intercultural behaviors

18 Developing Intercultural Competence
Major topics: Necessity and possibility of developing intercultural competence Definition of intercultural competence Models of intercultural adaptation Practical suggestions

19 Intercultural communication might offer us a new friend whose cultural experiences we find exhilarating or an alternative world view that can help us better deal with world population or international strife.

20 Improving intercultural communication is not only expedient, but also possible because
The brain is an open system; our ability to learn and to change We have free choice; choosing strategies that improve how you communicate with people from different cultures

21 Potential Problems in Intercultural Communication
Seeking similarities: most of us prefer our own kind and avoid the unfamiliar Uncertainty reduction: stress and frustration caused by the existence of uncertainty Diversity of communication styles Stereotyping and prejudice: make in-group and out-group distinction Misuse of power Culture shock Ethnocentrism

22 Intercultural Communication Competence
The affective dimension: open, tolerant, empathetic, sympathetic The cognitive dimension: general and specific cultural knowledge The behavioral dimension: flexible, adaptable, adventurous

23 Intercultural communication effectiveness is not a single but a multiple construct involving the major outcomes: job performance, cultural adaptation, and interpersonal relations.

24 Intercultural Communication Effectiveness
Task performance: do well at your job (job or career dimension) Ability to adapt to the new culture (everyday life dimension) Ability to establish healthy interpersonal relationships (emotional dimension)

25 Task Performance Technical and professional performance
Resourcefulness Creativity Organizational communication Management of task Performance evaluation

26 Adaptability Flexibility Maturity Knowledge of host culture
Language skills Nonjudgmental attitude Patience Respect for culture Open-mindedness Tolerance for ambiguity Appropriate social behavior

27 Interpersonal Relationships
Friendship Emotional control Sense of humor Empathy Trust others Positive relations with strangers Family relations Lack of ethnocentrism / prejudice

28 Outcomes of Adaptation
Psychological health: feeling comfortable in new cultural contexts Functional fitness: being able to function in daily life in many different contexts; learning new ways of living and behaving Intercultural identity: one who acts situationally

29 A Multicultural Person
A new type of person whose orientation and view of the world profoundly transcends his indigenous culture is developing from the complex of social, political, economic, and educational interactions of our time. That is a multicultural person defined by Adler(1977,25)

30 Models of cultural Adaptation
The anxiety and uncertainty model The U-Curve model The transition model The flight or fight approach The Communication-system Model

31 The anxiety and uncertainty model
The goal of effective intercultural communication can be reached by reducing anxiety and seeking information. (uncertainty and anxiety reduction) The most effective communicators are those who are best able to manage anxiety and predict and explain others’ behaviors with confidence (by Gudykunst, 1995,1998)

32 The U-Curve model Phase 1: excitement and anticipation
Phase 2: culture shock Phase 3: adaptation (by Sverre Lysgaard)

33 The transition model Culture shock and adaptation are just like any other adult transition (going away to college, getting married, moving from one part or the country to another). All of these transition experiences share common characteristics and provoke the same kinds of responses. All transition experiences involve change, including some loss and gain for the individual. (by Bennett, 1998)

34 The flight or fight approach
Faced with an unfamiliar situation: The flight approach: People tend to hang back, get the lay of the land, and see how things work before taking the plunge and joining in. The fight approach: people tend to get in there and participate, use the trial-and-error method.

35 The Communication-system Model
Adaptation is a process of stress, adjustment, and growth. Adaptation occurs through communication. Communication has a double edge in adaptation: more culture shock but better and faster adaptation Three stages of adaptation:1) taking things for granted, and surprise; 2) making sense of new patterns; 3) coming to understand new information (by Young Yun Kin, 1977, 1995)

36 A Developmental Model of Intercultural Sensitivity
The ethnocentric stages: Denial (deny the existence of differences) Defense (acknowledge cultural differences, but create specific defenses against them for they are considered threatening) Minimization (cultural differences are trivialized, or defined as relatively unimportant

37 The ethnorelative stages:
Acceptance: cultural difference is both acknowledged and respected; respect for behavioral differences and for value differences. Adaptation: skills for relating to and communicating with people of other cultures are enhanced. Integration:integrate disparate aspects of one’s identity into a new whole while remaining culturally marginal. - by Bennett

38 Practical Suggestions
Know yourself: culture, attitudes, communication style Consider the physical and human settings: timing, context, customs Seek to understand diverse message systems Develop empathy Encourage feedback Learn about cultural adaptation

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