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Culture Shock - what is it?

Have you ever had to move to a new house, visit a new country or change schools? Do you remember that experience? How easy was it for you to get used to the new place and people?

Moving to a new environment cannot be easy. The difficult period during which people gradually become comfortable in the new environment is called culture shock.

This is a story told by Tim whose parents moved to a new town. Look at the stages which Tim followed before he got used to his new school and put them in the correct chronological order. Write the numbers 1 to 5 in the left column of the table.

Stages of culture shock
Stage No Description of stage
  I thought that I had got used to the new school but I was wrong. Yesterday some boys and girls from my class went to a disco. I wanted to go with them but they said that they did not want me to go because I was new and did not know anybody there. I really hate this school and I wish I could go back to my old school and my old friends!
  Going to the new school is very exciting. What kind of new friends am I going to make there?
  I think I am happy here now. I know all my classmates well now and know that you cannot make friends with everybody. Maybe it is better to have some close friends who you can trust and not to get upset if somebody does not like you.
  I have got used to the new uniform. Maybe it is not so bad after all! I have made some new friends who are very strong, so other boys do not bully me any more.
  I really like my new school and some of my classmates. However, there are a few things that I do not like. I have to wear a horrible uniform with the most terrible tie. Some classmates are not very nice and are bullying me. I do not know what to do.


Typical chronological order (from top): 4, 1, 5, 3, 2.

  1. You are feeling excited and are really looking forward to seeing the new place and meeting the new people.
  2. You like the new environment but there are a few things that you are not happy with.
  3. You have got used to the things you did not like at first and the new people, and feel quite happy.
  4. You believe that you now feel totally comfortable in the new environment, but a couple of small problems with your new friends painfully remind you that you are still new and there are things you do not understand.
  5. Finally, you have secured your position in the new environment and can feel relaxed and happy.

But there is really no right or wrong answer! All people are different and react differently to a new situation.

Do you think the story reflects your own experiences of getting used to a new environment?

Which stages in the process do you think are the most difficult? What advice would you give to a person who has to go through culture shock?

© Mary Moor

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