Culture Shock 101

Jessie Gray
June 19, 2014

Culture shock. We’ve all heard the term, but do we really understand its meaning?

I always thought culture shock was a term to describe adjustment to an unfamiliar environment. I also only expected culture shock to occur, at least for me, in places with extreme differences from America (e.g. Tokyo or Ethiopia). In reality, culture shock is a subcategory of a more universal construct called transition shock.

Prepare to get learnt.

Transition shock is a state of discomfort when making any transition, including going to a new school, getting a new job or even when you get a divorce. Culture shock, which occurs when entering a different country, just happens to be included under that umbrella term.


Going through the process of culture shock was something I was not prepared for.

The Honeymoon Phase is something I would recommend to anyone. This is the part when we first landed in Amsterdam and I literally stayed awake for 48 hours without a complaint. It was when I wandered around the city and got lost on purpose just to see if I could find my way back. I wanted to soak in the country, the people, the culture. I wanted to experience it all. And I did, for the most part. During the Honeymoon Phase you feel like you just met your soulmate in the form of a culture. But as we know, honeymoons don’t last forever.

Currently, I’ve been observing “The Plunge”. I say “observing” because I realize this process is healthy and normal, and the best way I’ve found to deal with emotional turbulence is to treat is as something outside of yourself and simply observe it until it passes naturally. The Plunge. Ugh. The term is a lot more dramatic than the actual experience, but the chart has spoken. This phase is the one in which homesickness rears its ugly head. I notice things differently in this phase. For example, instead of feeling warm and fuzzy when I see a happy family at the park, I feel jealous that they are all together when I’m 4,400 miles away from mine. Simple things bring vivid memories of home back to me and it does sting a little but, as all things do, it passes.

I’m still really enjoying my time abroad, but in a different light. Going through this process is only going to fuel my growth as an individual and shape me in ways I wouldn’t experience without going through a couple rough days.

At the end of the day, I appreciate The Plunge in all it’s ominousness. It’s molding me into my future self.

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Jessie Gray

<div><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">Hello, I&#39;m Jessie Gray. I&#39;m an Advertising major with emphasis in Psychology and English from Nebraska. I love reading, food, and going on adventures with my friends, discovering people and worlds we never knew existed. I am passionate about photography and I hope that I can encapsulate my time abroad through that medium. I am incredibly excited to experience and share the adventures that await me overseas!</span></div>

2014 Summer 1, 2014 Summer 2
Home University:
University of Nebraska - Lincoln
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