The 4 Stages of Culture Shock

Moving abroad can be an exciting experience! Many new impressions, unfamiliar surroundings, and new people and activities. However, all these exciting new experiences might also lead to a feeling of being a little bit lost.

Culture shock is common among expats and people who have moved far away from home. It can be developed even after you have settled in and have become familiar with the norms and culture of your new home, Sweden for example!

1. Honeymoon

The first stage is usually characterized by an extremely positive feeling, almost euphoric. Everything is new and exciting! You might be thinking “This is the best decision I’ve ever made! Sweden is great and everything is really well organized! I can even find stores where I can buy local products from my country!”.

2. Frustration stage

During this phase, a strong feeling of dissatisfaction kicks in and the excitement quickly starts turning into discomfort. Impatience, anger, and sadness are all characteristics of this stage. Miscommunication and failure to understand gestures are a source of frustration, and even the simplest thing might be able to trigger you! For example “why is everyone so obsessed with the weather?” or “why do people use passive-aggressive notes instead of talking to each other?”

3. Adjustment stage

You slowly begin to gain a sense of direction and surely begin to feel more familiar and comfortable with the people, culture, food, and surroundings of your new environment. You might have also established some friendships that make you feel more at home! Everything starts getting in order and you are ready to move to the next phase. You have already started eating lunch at 12:00 and dinner at 18:00 as a real Swede!

4. Adaptation stage

Adaptation and acceptance. This is the final stage of culture shock. You might not have gotten the hang of it completely, but you have accepted and adopted the customs, habits, and cultural practices of your new home. This final stage contributes to your successful integration!