Cultural shock

Culture shock is a thing that may surprise you while you are staying in Poland. It is the loss of emotional balance, disorientation or confusion that a person feels when moving from a familiar environment to an unfamiliar one. The basic cause of culture shock is the loss of all that is familiar and the lack of skills and knowledge to cope with unfamiliar. Individual personality, previous cross-cultural experience, the ability to handle change and ambiguity will all affect a person's ability to interact and adapt to a new environment (Guanipa, 1998). Culture shock does not need to be seen as a bad thing. Keep in mind, that you are having these adjustment difficulties because you are truly entering into a new culture.

Be assured however, you can and will surpass it, and the benefits will be worth it!

There are four different phases, although it might happen that you go through only one of them or all of them. These four phases are as follows;

1st phase, honeymoon:
Everything is great, nothing is wrong, you are having a wonderful time in your new environment.

2nd phase, shock:
There are so many differences in the country you are living in, that you do not know how to deal with them. You did not think things would be like this.

3rd phase, negotiation:
You learn to deal with the problems set before you and try to integrate them with your own beliefs.

4th phase, acceptance:
You are able to live well in the environment with the differences you are experiencing and you accept entirely that things are different that in your home country.

Signs of Culture Shock

  • Feeling no one cares about you
  • Depression or withdrawal
  • Confusion
  • Homesickness and glorifying "home"
  • Seeking refuge in fellow countrymen
  • Hostility-aggression towards host country

Solutions for Culture Shock

  1. Keep active
    By getting out of your room, you are able to experience first-hand what Polish students are doing. If you visit public places, such as a restaurants or some events, you will be able to watch and learn how Polish customs are practiced.
  2. Make Polish friends
    By having friends you can talk to, you are able to ask them questions about what you do not understand.
  3. Read
    Read about the culture that you are being introduced to in order to understand more.
  4. Exercise
    By finding an activity that you can enjoy, you will be able to reduce stress and depression.
  5. Work on your Polish
    This is an important concept. It is much easier to understand a culture when you can understand, even a bit, the language being used.
  6. Talk with other international students
    Other international students may be experiencing the same problems that you are. By talking to them, you may be able to find out ways they are coping with problems.
  7. Be patient
    Many international students experience culture shock in some way while they are abroad. Just recognize the problem and give yourself time to get over it.

Read, research, picture yourself in there and prepare yourself for a great adventure!

Coping with culture shock by Arja Reinikainen