DEALING WITH CULTURE SHOCK
Today, more than ever, people are on the move to new countries, and new cultures. They may be motivated to move by political situations, economic conditions, employment, even retirement.
Schumann recognizes that there are a number of factors in an immigrant’s acculturation including their pattern of integration, the degree of difference from their original culture, the length of residence in their new country, and their own individual motivation, attitude, and ego. Especially critical is confronting a different language. But there seems to be another significant phenomenon that all immigrants experience - Culture Shock.
CULTURE SHOCK is the anxiety that an individual feels about entering into a new culture. Schumann’s theory states that there is a succession of four “stages” every immigrant goes through between arrival and assimilation. The stages are:
2. The HOSTILE STAGE (generally lasting about 6 months, with variations). Immigrants find themselves becoming antagonistic toward their new host culture. Many will develop depression and even aggression. The individual will try to reconnect with their home culture by watching films, reading, and seeking out the foods of their home culture. Cultural differences will no longer be celebrated. Language study will stall or even decline as the immigrant decides that his own native language is sufficient for most situations. The Hostile Stage is an expression of the confusion of identity that
overwhelms the person adjusting to a new culture.
4. The REVERSE CULTURE SHOCK STAGE. Statistics show that a large majority of immigrants will return to their home country either to visit or stay. This surprising stage refers to the fact that a returning person will eagerly share their experiences from the new culture with others in their home country. But they find that the people and country have changed during their absence, and the way the returnee is accepted has been affected. Often the return adjustment is too great to stay for long and many immigrants return to their new host culture again.
Interestingly, Schumann’s research indicates that these four stages of cultural adjustment cannot be avoided. The most an immigrant to hope for is to reduce the time involved with the process.