Free Essay

Culure Shock

In: Business and Management

Submitted By dub4breeze
Words 2518
Pages 11
1. Introduction

1. Background

In 1960, Oberg put forward a theory which is about 4 stages of culture shock. He focused on American travellers. Many people all around the world were travelling more because of improved technology and better transportation. Moreover, it became cheaper to go abroad therefore more people experience anxiety as a result of being in a different culture.

2. Purpose

This report investigates how overseas students should get ready before go abroad so they can minimize or prevent culture shock.

3. Scope

This report analyses mainly on Oberg’s theory which is about 4 stages of culture shock: honeymoon, crisis, recovery and adjustment. In addition, two changes of Oberg’s theory were discussed. Finally, a seven step plan for managing travel anxiety is also analysed along with the results of a survey on how to minimize culture shock for overseas students living in Melbourne.

4. Research methods/Methodology

The information and data used in this report is based on primary sources. We did a questionnaire and it was completed by Swinburne students at Hawthorn. Also we used secondary data which is from internet and periodical resources.

2. Results

Culture shock is called as a disease of people who have to go abroad immediately but it can be cure by many ways such as learning about when to shake hands and when to accept or refuse invitation. Getting in a strange culture individually can cause many different things in their mind and then they will feel frustration and anxiety which contributes discomfort. Culture shock can be also called regression. That means they think environment at home is more lively and they want to go back home.

1. Honeymoon Stage

A first few days or weeks to six months they will be very happy because of new things. They will be shown fantastic places which they have never seen before and so on.

2. Crisis Stage

In this stage their attitudes get hostile and aggressive towards the host country. These aggressive attitudes increase because there are many difficulties adjusting to the new environment. For example housing difficulties, transportation problems and shopping matters could frustrate visitors. Ultimately the foreign visitors start to reject the host country, as well as the customs and its people.

3. Recovery Stage

When people already got some knowledge and were acquainted with environment. They are going to think the difficulties are their own problems and trying to solve them. They become to be friendly and make joke with others included themselves.

4. Adjustment Stage

Finally, people can reach on the stage of adjustment. On this stage, people can adopt the culture completely as part of life even the customs. Not only adapt the general aspects of culture but also people actually start to enjoy the culture without any strain. In addition, people will miss that culture when they are away from the country.

3. Discussion

3.1 Comment on 2 changes to Oberg theory of culture shock

According to Oberg who originally defined about culture shock, “Culture shock might be called an occupational disease of people who have been suddenly transplanted abroad." (Oberg 1960, p. 185) He explained about situation which people face to alien culture; it is just like “a fish out of water”, in different culture, people can get the feeling of anxiety, stress, frustration instead of many familiar cues from own country. He divided culture shock into the 4 stages: honeymoon, crisis, recovery and adjustment. After theory of culture shock was defined by Oberg, many people focused on the culture shock, but they realized that theory was not always relevant. Since then, many new models and criticisms came out, it changed Oberg’s theory. One of significant change theory was claimed by Weaver. Basically he agreed Oberg’s theory, but he developed Oberg’s theory to be more relevant. He defined “culture shock” was like an iceberg. He explained under the water part of iceberg is awareness of conscious; it means people can lose awareness from culture shock. It is slightly different from Oberg’s theory. Weaver claims that 4 stages of culture shock are not always relevant; it can’t be apply for every people. This is because he focused on individualize differences. He divided group more specific and individual. He claims culture shock appears differently depends on person. For instance, according to Weaver, “Tourists seldom experience culture shock because they are short-term sojourners who never actually enter another culture” (Weaver, 1987) it shows culture shock relatively different. From our perspective, it certainly is valid, because people have different thoughts, characters, and occasions even if they face on same situation. For example, suppose two people who are going to eat kangaroo meat first time. One person might not have it because he doesn’t understand to eat it; in contrast, the other person might adopt the situation well without any strain because he is open-minded. In this manner, depends on person, it is different how to cope with culture shock.

The other changes were claimed by Furnham and Bochner. Furnham and Bochner (1993, pp.97-98) claims that the Oberg’s theory is too general. To compare with Oberg, They focused on more educational issues; a culture can be learned in a few lessons. Some societal and educational facts are getting acquaint with new cultures, culture shock are causes by lack of education. In addition, students are unable to manage the educational difficulties individually. They pointed out institutions are not facilitated students for academic and culture adaption for development of proper orientation and training programmes.

In terms of the point of view, the Fernham and Bouchner’s claim are valid. The facts what they have mentioned as causes and reactions are completely equivalent with majority of the foreign students including ourselves have experienced these difficulties. Indeed, foreign students suffer from problem of culture shock such as transport, language and housing difficulties. It is causes by lack of education, hence foreign students get frustrate and ultimately they become a victim of the culture shock.

3.2 Donald C. Smith’s seven steps

3.2.1 Step one: Mediation Relax


Figure 1: The respondents’ answer about mediation relaxation

Figure 1 shows the number of respondents who answer the question which asks if meditation relaxation helps them to prevent anxiety before travelling. The most of respondents (12 respondents) are not really sure that whether mediation relaxation helps them to decrease anxiety before they go abroad.

Meditation relaxation might not help overseas people that much as Smith said. It just sounds good but it does not mean that works very well to prevent anxiety before travelling. It could work well for people who have mental problem. Kimberly claims that the first step is just about realization what new environment is and how it is different from your own environment (Kimberly 2008). It might be more helpful than meditation relax as Smith said.

3.2.2 Step two: searching geography

In our opinion, we disagree about searching geographic information because it is not as useful as Smith said. But some people believe that to knowing geographic information can help to reduce the homesickness. Smith (2008, pp. 43-44) claims that knowing about geographic information helps to prevent the culture shock. But surprisingly, according to the research, there are 65% of respondents think this kind of information is not useful and helpful.


As it is shown in figure 2, there are only 7 participants think geography helps to prevent culture shock, it is just about half of disagreement. One of the major reasons for this situation is geographic information actually does nothing for people to be more adaptive to new culture.

3.2.3 Step three: understanding the country

Some of respondents are not curious about geographic information, even though, they believe that getting some information about the country which they are going is necessary.


It can be clearly seen that, form figure 3, most of respondents would like to search Australian custom; law; history and weather before they came to Melbouren. And some participants are intereted in monetary system, religion, food, language and present status as well. To know about those types of information are helpful to get in this new culture and make their new lives easier. So, in fact, understanding the country before coming here is useful to prevent the culture shock.

3.2.4 Step four: konwing about specific town or city

After developing a general concept of the country, the following useful way to prevent culture shock is focusing on the specific town or city where they are going. Different cities have their own chatacters even they are in the same country.

[pic] [pic]

Due to the research, the most common way to know a city is asking someone who has had made a trip before, there are 80% of participants who have had this experience. But 87.5% of respondents think the advice from others is not good enough because everyone might face different situations. (see figure 4 and figure 5)

3.2.5 Step five: learning language before travelling


Figure 6 shows the percentage of overseas students who completely do not agree that learning English before they came here is helpful by 6 percent only while there are 82 percent of the respondants who are not sure about this.

Learn some of language can help a lot for people who are going abroad. For example, it is very easy for overseas people to get lost so it must be good if they can speak a little bit of that language. Just like in Kimberly’s article, learning some of the language such as some basic phrases and a few words definitely makes being in different countries easier (Kimberly 2008).

3.2.6 Step six: setting communication system


Figure 7 shows, 70% of respondents answered they did setup some communication system which can link with supporting group such as their family and friends before they came to Melbourne.

There is some possible reason that makes overseas student setup communication system before they left. When people are far away from their own countries they easily get the stress and feeling of anxieties from the new culture. This is because of differentiation from their culture. Under the circumstance that they live in the different place and different time zone from supporting group, they might face on unfamiliar and uncomfortable situation which called culture shock. Meanwhile, Smith (2008, pp.43-44) claims that the ways to connect with supporting group can be helpful. Then overseas people will become more familiar and comfortable to accept the new culture.

3.2.7 Step seven: Congratulation

This is the last step in the seven step plan of Smith. It is just a step which you can say congratulation to yourself if you have done all of the steps above.

4. Conclusion

Oberg defined four stages of culture shock; however, 4 stages of culture shock that Oberg defined are not alway valid so there are some writers who made some changes from Oberg’s thoery. Smith put forward the seven step plan which helps overseas people to prevent anxiety before travelling. Most of overseas students in Swinburne do not completely agree with the seven step plan of Smith, though. The biggest disagreement is about learning language before travelling. Most of respondents claimed that learning English is not really helpful while Smith said it did.

5. Recommendations

• Focus on what you can control.

When we are suffering from culture shock, we usually feel out of control. So, don't spend energy on things you cannot change.

• Don't invest major energy in minor problems.

We make "mountains out of molehills" even more quickly in cross-cultural situations than we do in our own culture.

• Tackle major stressors head on: Don't avoid things.

• Ask for help.

Create a wide support network as quick as you can in your target culture. This can include expatriates like yourself as well as people of the local culture.

• Write it down.

Record your thoughts and frustrations in a journal. This will give you a healthy outlet for expressing your feelings


• Oberg, K 1960, ‘Culture shock: adjustment to new cultural environment’, Practical Anthropologist, Vol. 7, p. 185

• Furnham, A 1993, ‘Communicating in foreign lands: the cause, consequences, and cures of culture shock’, Language, Culture and Curriculum, vol. 6, no.1, pp. 91-109

• Kimberly, K 2008, 7 Steps to Mentally Prepare for Extended Travel, Go Green Travel Green, viewed 17 August 2009,

• Smith, D C 2008, ‘Pulling the plug on culture shock: A seven step plan for managing travel anxiety’, Journal of Global Business Issues, vol. 2, Issue 1, pp. 43-44


• Culture shock: a name of disease for people who are in different environment

• Periodical resources: resources which are valid in specific time such as magazines, newspaper and books

• Regression: feeling of want to go back to some stages

• Alien culture: strange culture

• Sojourners: traveller

• Meditation relaxation: kind of mental relaxation such as being in comfort zone, listening to music and acknowledging


















Please tick (√) one box only for each of the following questions.

1. Gender: A. 9Female B. 11Male
2. Age group: A. 8under 20 B. 1020 – 25 C. 226 – 30 D. 030-35

3. Your own continent : A. 18Asia B. 0Europe C. 0North America D. 1South America

E. 0Africa F. 1 Others ……Reunion……

4. How long have you been in Melbourne? A. 261-2 weeks B. 17 3-4 weeks C. 13 1-2 months D. 43-6 months E. 0 6 months - 1 year F. 1 over 1 years G. 1 over 5 years

5. Does mediation relaxation help to prevent culture shock before travelling? A. 3Yes, it does B. 12Yes, may be C. 5No, not at all

6. Does searching for facts about gerography help you to feel more comfortable in new culture? For example would knowledge of Australia 's mountains help you? A. 7Yes B. 5No C. 8Not really

7. Which one of these is the most important thing to know before travelling? A. 5History B. 4Climate C. 3Monetary system D. 2Religion

E. 7Laws F. 9Custom G. 0Others ……………………

8. Have you ever spoken with anyone who has made a trip before you came here? If Yes, go to 9, If No, go to 10.

A. 16Yes B. 4No

9. Did this person give good advice & can you share the advice you received? A. 2Yes B. 14No

10. Has learning English before you came here helped you? A. 2A lot B. 14Not really C. 1Not at all

11. How much did you get ready before you came here? A. 4Very well B. 14So So C. 2Poor

For an example did you setup any communication system before you left?

A. 14Yes B. 6No

If yes, what did you setup?

A. 5Skype B. 1V-mail C. 7MSN D. 3Phone E. 3Others….QQ…...

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