I’m teaching an American culture class for the 3rd year students, who are planning to attend NAU next year. Today we talked about culture shock, which got me thinking about my own experiences with culture shock.
I read about the stages of culture shock before coming to Thailand, so I was expecting to go through the 3 stages. The first stage is a period of excitement. People sometimes refer to it as the “honeymoon stage”. During this stage, many people love everything about the host culture. Everything is new and wonderful. The second stage is a period of stress or depression. During this time, many people feel frustrated with the host culture and hate everything. The third stage is acceptance, when you learn to take the good with the bad and have a more realistic understanding of the culture.
My experience with culture shock has not been so cut-and-dried. I didn’t go through much of a honeymoon phase. My first two weeks in Thailand were pretty rough. I missed Dave a lot and I was bored and lonely in my crappy Kwanmor hotel room. I really hated the bugs. Things improved dramatically once school started. I started spending more time with students and friends, I liked my job, I moved out of Kwanmor, and Dave & I got onto a regular communication schedule. Since then, things have pretty much stayed the same. I’ve had times when I’ve felt lonely and wished I could go home, but these have always been short-lived. I’ve had a few frustrating moments at school, but none of them were overwhelming. I do have a lot of appreciation for Thai culture, and I haven’t lost that in my 3 1/2 months here. However, recently I have begun to feel much more comfortable and happy here. I am hoping that I just skipped over that bad phase of culture shock altogether!