4 Phases of Culture Shock While Doing an Erasmus3 min read

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The culture for an expatriate is a bit like the iceberg in the Titanic. The submerged part is the one that is visible to everyone. It is the language of the country, its culinary spirit, its musical tastes… Elements that should not pose major problems in your adaptation. But culture is above all the underlying part, the part that causes the ship to sink. These are social norms, links with religion, the importance of work, and the place of women and men in society. Much more subtle things in short.

Are you an ERASMUS student willing to go abroad? You have come to the right place. Welcome to Eurosender’s flight to a different culture. Please take your seat.

First phase: The Honeymoon

0 – 2 weeks (The durations are given as an indication and vary according to the individual).

You have just arrived at your destination. The dominant feelings are excitement and euphoria. You see cultural differences in a positive way. In a word: you are convinced that this is the most pleasant stay.

Disillusionment

2 weeks – 2 months

This is the moment when the Titanic hits the iceberg.

You miss your country of origin: food, family, friends. The country where you moved to remains a mystery. You do not understand its values or the behaviour of local people. Problems are accumulating and symptoms are diverse, ranging from simple fatigue to depression.

Adjustment phase

4 months – ???

After a high and low phase, the ship’s breach has just been closed. You feel at home and are part of the local community. Your behaviour has also changed. It has adapted and corresponds to the social standards of your host country.

Reverse culture shock

This is the return to your homeland. After having experienced adventures and overcome all obstacles, the boat arrives safely at its destination. However, you must readapt to your own culture. Some of your friends may think that you have changed, that you are no longer the same.

A new adventure begins…

The 5 solutions to cultural shocks:

This is about the disillusionment phase. We are sorry to tell you this, but this step is a necessary step, a test that helps you to become the master of your existence. But don’t worry. It is possible to reduce the duration and intensity of this phase. To do this, a few simple actions:

  • Have a basic knowledge of the local language (or a good knowledge of English).
  • Learn about the culture of the host country: You don’t come to an exam without revising. By extension, we do not go on an adventure empty-handed. Preparation is the key.
  • Avoid comparisons with your homeland: It is tempting to compare a foreign country with our native land. You probably have to tell yourself that you miss your country and that it is much better than the one you are currently in. Whether true or not, this kind of comparison is disastrous for your mental health. Think of all the personalities on Instagram and how some share living their best dream life. This could come as a source of negativity, because of the comparison we make between our lives and theirs.
  • Do activities regularly: sport is highly recommended but other options exist (museums, dancing, cinema, etc…). Keeping yourself occupied will help you feel that the time goes faster.
  • Don’t neglect the social aspect: You are also abroad to build new friendships. However, don’t forget your friends who stayed in your home country. 😉

Do you want to send local specificities to your family? To your friends? This is possible with Eurosender.

Last modified: August 13, 2019

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