Stage 1 – Culture Shock

According to kwintessential I am in stage one.  I have been in Germany for approximately one month and am still absorbing impressions from the little farming community we are living in outside of Emden, Lower Saxony.

We were out raking leaves around our garden and 3 very friendly people stopped to say hello and let us know that we could throw the leaves in the hedge  on the other side of the street.  It seemed important to them that we knew that it was OK to do that.  In Norway, i am pretty sure that, without shame, people throw leaves wherever they please.

I know this first hand, because we are building a house in Norway on a lot that has been a depot for leaves for the last 50  years. Assumably out of habit, people are still throwing leaves there, even though it is quite obviously my yard and not a vacant lot.

Anyone else in Stage one culture shock?  Would love to hear about!


‘Culture shock’ is used to describe the emotional rollercoaster that someone experiences when living in a new country. Anyone that has worked and lived in a foreign country will experience culture shock of some sort.

Culture shock affects anyone from business personnel and their families, to EFL teachers to sports stars. Recognising culture shock is an important way of being able to deal with it. Dealing with it helps minimise the risk of becoming disillusioned with a new country and the possibility of deciding that a quick return ‘home’ is the only solution.

Experts agree that culture shock has stages and all agree that once people get beyond the initial and most difficult stages, life in a new country becomes a lot better.

Outlined below is an example of the stages people go through with culture shock:

Stage 1 – Excitement

The individual experiences a holiday or ‘honeymoon’ period with their new surroundings.

. Feel very positive about the culture
. Are overwhelmed with impressions
. Find the new culture exotic and are fascinated
. Are passive, meaning they have little experience of the culture

Stage 2 – Withdrawal

The individual now has some more face to face experience of the culture and starts to find things different, strange and frustrating.

. Find the behaviour of the people unusual and unpredictable
. Begin to dislike the culture and react negatively to the behaviour
. Feel anxious
. Start to withdraw
. Begin to criticize, mock or show animosity to the people

Stage 3 – Adjustment

The individual now has a routine, feels more settled and is more confident in dealing with the new culture.

. Understand and accept the behaviour of the people
. Feel less isolated
. Regains their sense of humour
Stage 4 – Enthusiasm

The individual now feels ‘at home’.

. Enjoy being in the culture
. Functions well in the culture
. Prefer certain cultural traits of the new culture rather than their own
. Adopt certain behaviours from the new culture

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