Culture shockIntroduction:The phenomenon of culture shock can be traced back to the existence of first human being on the earthand it existed in one or another way however, in literature the concept of culture shock was first coined in1958. The term culture shock was first mentioned by Kalvero Oberg in 1960. Culture shock refers to thesituation where a person moves from a culture which is familiar to an unfamiliar one resulting in newexperiences and causing distress and discomfort or sense of loneliness. It does not mean that only aperson who moves into a new country will experience culture shock. Someone entering into a newneighborhood can experience culture shock, a person going to a new city with in the same country canface culture shock or even college students experience culture shock in the initial days of college.Culture shock can be comprehensively understood as “the personal disorientation a person may feelwhen experiencing an unfamiliar way of life due to immigration or a visit to a new country or to a movebetween social environments also a simple travel to another type of life”.Literature Review:The concept of culture shock grabbed the attention of researchers and sociologists because of itsinteresting nature and its need to be diagnosed and treated for somehow its severe consequences.People living in a particular society share somehow common culture. They may not have the sameculture but later on start to adapt to that culture. They will more likely perceive things same in broaderterm and their thinking pattern start to act alike to major issues and stimulus. According to a studyconducted by Hallowell, people with different cultures will perceive things differently because they havebeen selectively sensitized to certain arrays of stimulus rather than others as a function of one culturalgroup rather than other (Hallowell, 1951). This means that they start to act in such shared patternsunknowingly. Opposite is the case with cross-culture connection where the respondent is an alien in thecommunity thus faces culture shock. In addition to traditional behaviors and customs, culture includes aconceptual style i.e. organizing things or putting things in a specific way. People try to match externalstimulus with internal conceptual patterns, if they don’t match people will start feeling stressed anddiscomfort and that will result in a cultural shock (Price-Williams, 1980). Culture shock has also beenstudied in context of colleges and universities. Horn did a study on American first-generation students in1998. His concludes that about one-fourth of the first-generation students who enter a four-YearCollege in U.S. do not return for the second year because of the culture shock to which they fail to adapt(Horn, 1998).
Scope of the study:The essay is limited to culture shock from a university student’s perspective explaining how cultureshock is faced and encountered by a student coming to a new university/college and what itsconsequences are? Also it does not serve the whole population and scenarios i.e. cannot be generalizedbecause personalities differ from person to person. It means that an event may be a reason of cultureshock for one person but it may not cause culture shock to another person.Significance:This essay will be an addition to the existing literature which can be used in future researches. It can alsobe used as a guide by the new students to have the knowhow of culture shock, which is faced by almostevery new student. This research work can be used also by the faculty of the host colleges to minimizethe effects of culture shock. Discussion:Culture shock is not a one go situation but it should be treated as a complete process from the startphase to the final phase where culture shock is finally encountered. Theory describes it in a process of 4stages i.e. Honeymoon stage, crises stage, recovery stage and adaptation stage. Honeymoon stagestarts with the day when a student gets admission in a new college/university. This stage is dominatedby enthusiasm and fascination about the host college. The student is delighted as well as curious aboutthe new friends he will meet, new teachers and whole new environment. Honeymoon stage is followedby the crisis stage. This is the basic stage where culture shock actually happens. The student maycounter language barriers, failure in making new friends, inability to adjust to the new community andculture etc. This will result in anxiety, stress and frustration. The crises stage is followed by the recoverystage. This is the stage where the student recognizes his problems and starts to cope up with the newculture. He will start making friends in the host college, working on his language barriers and otheradjustments. Anxiety and frustration vanishes and is replaced by confidence and acceptance of the hostvalues. Now the student becomes functional and gets functional with the system. The final stage isadaptation/adjustment stage. In this stage the student fully adapts the new culture which is no morealien or a nightmare to him.It is of immense importance to know what causes culture shock to a new college student. One of themajor causes is the mismatch of expectations. The student might have some expectations or standardsset in the honeymoon stage which unfortunately do not meet with the actual and thus results in culturalshock. Another reason can be the newness of the environment. This newness may comprise of themodernity in the new college. Here important to know is “backwardness” can also be the reason ofculture shock. Changes in educational system can also be a cause for the shock. It includes thecomplexity in the syllabus, tough teaching methods etc. Cultural shock can target a student if he/shedoes not have prior knowledge about the new college.
It may be very difficult to know if a person is in the crises stage however there are some symptoms thatmay give a clue. The student will feel homesickness where he will talk and remind more about hisfriends and family at home. He will also feel pity over himself and start considering himself weak andunhealthy. Anger can be another symptom and it can range to highly harmful. She will no more trust herfriends and will have a sense of mistrust. She will look stressed and strained and will be in deepdepression. She will have no confidence in herself. She will be getting more introvert and shy to expressher point of view thus resulting in agreeableness to everyone. These were some of the symptoms thatare apparent and may have lots of other indications as well.Conclusion:The likelihood of culture shock is very high. It is the distress and frustration caused when we go to aplace with a new culture. Culture shock as like in other ways can also affect a student when he goes intoa new college. The crises stage is most important stage where actual culture shock happens. Cultureshock may be because of lack of knowledge about the college, environment and new teachers. It isindicated by the distrust, frustration, homesickness, grief and anger. How long will it last varies fromperson to person depending on their personalities, backgrounds and mental conceptions. It may lead tohigh turnovers for colleges as indicated by Horn’s study which exerts that about one-fourth of the four-year college students do not go to the same college in their second year. However it can be reduced oravoided if students seek prior knowledge about the new college, administration arrange properorientations, being helpful and finally set same medium of communication.Possible solutions, suggestions and recommendations:Here are few solutions which we think can be of use if applied. a. Students should have enough knowledge i.e. through reading about his/her college to avoid/minimize the effect of culture shock. b. There should be proper orientation sessions for the new comers to know more about their new college. c. Staff and administration in the new college should be lenient and try to help the new-comers to adjust. d. Medium of communication should be same for all the students.
References:Hallowell. (1951). cultural factors in the structuralization of perception. social psychology at thecrossroads .Horn. (1998). Stopouts or Stayouts? Undergraduates who leave college in first year. Waashington: USdepartment of education.Kim. (1988). COmmunication and cross-cultura. Multi lingual matters .Tinto, V. (2000). Taking retention seriously: Rethinking the first year of college. NACADA Journal, 19(2),5–10.Zapf, M. K. (1991). Cross-cultural transitions and wellness: Dealing with culture shock. InternationalJournal for the advancement of counselling , 105-119.http://www.newcastle.edu.au/service/counselling/