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Cultural Shock and Its Impact on Our Perception of New Culture
Intercultural contacts are gaining momentum due to increased interactions for educational purposes, escalating movements of foreign workers, and increased tourism around the globe. Cultural shock refers to the feelings of confusion, anxiety, loneliness, and uncertainty that a person may experience when he comes in contact with a new culture. This essay answers the question of whether cultural shock impacts our perception about the host culture, society, and its people. Yes, the adjustment in a new culture is challenging and does affect human behavioral and cognitive responses to the new environment.
Commonly people experiencing cultural shock are entrenched with an excessive fear of being cheated, injured, robbed, deceived, and rejected—these fears collectively build-up their perception about his new surroundings.
While experiencing cultural shock, the early phase is the period of excitement and glee. People are more optimistic about opportunities, curious about new things, and are less likely to be judgmental. Their own emotions are at peak; therefore, they recognize society as accommodating and cooperative.
After this period of joy and fascination, many people start to see the cultural differences as “imperfection” in the host culture. They may begin criticizing the citizens for unsuitable actions as a justification for their psychological experience. On the verge of their cultural shock, they may identify the new culture as uncertain, thus making it hard for them to assess their behavior and learn neutrally about the host culture.
The phase of recovery initiates a positive thought process. A person’s own conscious and unconscious struggles to learn the language and familiarity with the values and norms drive him to view things optimistically.
In the last phase of adapting completely to the host culture, an individual’s perception and his reactions totally change. As soon as his anxiety fades away, he completely quits viewing the host society as discriminating and accepts his surroundings.
From the above discussion, it is evident that psychological phases affect our responses. It is equally applicable in the case of people going through a cultural transition. It can be safely concluded that when people move to a new culture, their feelings and certain fears formulates their perception about the host culture.