Listening Topic: International Studies – Lecture about culture shock

A. Listen to the lecture. Number the stages of culture shock 1 through 5.

___  the rejection stage

___  reverse culture shock

___  the adjustment stage

___  the honeymoon stage

___  the superiority stage

B. Listen to the lecture again. As you listen, fill in the notes. For items 4-7, provide one to three examples of what happens at each stage. Listen again if necessary.

Culture Shock

1   Definition:

2   Expression Invented in:

3   Honeymoon Stage: It’s exciting/fun. Feel like a tourist

4   Rejection stage:

5   Superiority stage:

6   Adjustment stage:

7   Reverse culture shock:

8   Important to know about culture shock because:



a 2   b 5   c 4   d 1   e 3


 Irritated at stores, taxi drivers, food, and feeling ignored and miserable

 Complain about new culture, feel that your home culture is better.

 Getting used to new culture, start making friends, enjoying work, realize that there’s good and bad everywhere.

 When you go back to your own culture, you may feel disappointed, prefer some things in new culture


Today I’m going to talk a little about culture shock, and what I mean by that is the kind of psychological problems a person may have while living in a different culture … someone who moves to a different culture, in particular, and the new culture doesn’t have to be all that different, problems can happen between people who come from similar cultures or who speak the same language: the United States and Britain, for example. So anyway, we’ll look at the stages of culture shock and then we’ll discuss some strategies for dealing with it.

First of all, the expression “culture shock” was invented in 1954 by an American anthropologist, Dr. Kalvero Oberg. Oberg described four different stages of culture shock. Other psychologists have added more. There’s a fifth stage that I’ll describe. I’m sure those of you who have had experience in a different culture will recognize some of these stages.

The first stage is often called the honeymoon period: it’s kind of a euphoric stage. When you first arrive … hey, new country! Everything is exotic and exciting. You notice all the differences, and you delight in them, like a tourist. If you have friends there, they may go out of their way to make you feel at home. They treat you like a special guest, and it’s a very positive experience. Maybe you have a few problems, but they don’t bother you that much. It’s all fun. It’s all part of the new experience.

But honeymoons don’t last forever. And if you’re going to live in a new place, you have to come to terms with the day-to-day realities of life there. You have to open a bank account, perhaps find an apartment, find a job.

Often, you don’t speak the language, and you don’t really know how to go about doing things. That’s when you realize that the support systems that you had in your old country, and the ways that you got things done there, may not be the same here in the new country. You’re like a fish out of water … out of your own environment, and you don’t know how things work, or you get irritated at the different ways that things work … and – and this is often a big part of it – nobody seems to care.

That’s when you’re moving into the second stage, which is the stage most people think of when they talk about culture shock. It’s a kind of rejection stage. The stores aren’t open when you want them to be. The taxi drivers aren’t helpful. You’re fed up with the food. You’re sick of seeing movies with subtitles. You’re trying to learn the language, but nobody appreciates your efforts. When you go out with people, everyone ignores you. All of this kind of adds up, and it can make you feel pretty miserable. People even experience physical symptoms.

Now most people go through this stage to some extent. And how you deal with this stage is really important. Because it’s a challenge, and you just have to accept it and work through it. Unfortunately, a lot of people move into a third stage from here, a kind of a superiority phase. That’s when you start feeling superior to the new culture. You tend to get together with friends from your home culture and complain about the country you’re in. Everything about the new place is bad; everything about the old place is good. You’re romanticizing your own country or your own culture.

Stage four is where you begin to adjust to the new country. Some time passes, and you’re getting used to things. Maybe you speak the language a little. Maybe your job becomes more interesting. Maybe you’ve met some new friends and they’re helping you to adjust. For whatever reason, you’re … you’re starting to feel a little more at home. You realize that there are things that you actually like about the new country. This is called the adjustment period, and it’s a more mature stage, when you begin to realize that there are good things and bad things everywhere you go.

Some people talk about a fifth stage: reverse culture shock, which is when you finally return to the culture you came from. Often you’re actually disappointed at things there, and then you realize that you have changed, and that there are some things that you like better in the new culture.

So that’s the stages of culture shock. Now if you’re going to study or work overseas, it really helps to know about culture shock, so you can prepare yourself in advance. And if you know about it, you can anticipate it, and maybe not avoid it completely, but take action to deal with it. So hat are some things that you could do …

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