Normally, you may assume culture shock as the stress and the feeling of disorientation you experience in a new culture or new country. But culture shock basically refers to a stressful transitional period when individuals move from a familiar environment into an unfamiliar one. For the first thought, it seems to be very terrible and lead to bad impacts on individuals who suffer it. However, culture shock can also have positive implication as well as its negative implications. For the negative side, culture shock negative implications include three major issues.
First, after a long period of feeling stress, you may suffer some psychosomatic problems such as headaches and stomachaches… Second, you may also face some affective upheavals, which consist of feelings of loneliness, isolation, depression, drastic mood swings, and interaction awkwardness caused by the inability to perform optimally. Another negative implication you may have when you undergo culture shock is the cognitive exhaustion, which caused by difficulty in making accurate attribution. I had been a student of Vietnam Medical University before I took a decision of moving to Foreign Trade University.
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As a sojourner moving from an environment of one university to another environment of another university, I did also experience the negative implications of culture shock. For very first times, I were shocked to recognize that I might have to learn all things by myself without any force and help from teacher and friend. In my old university, we were taught everything in detail. We even have practicing time for deeper understanding what we have learned. In our class, there are four or five groups of learning. In group, we students help each other to get the insight of the lessons easier and faster.
However, Foreign Trade University (FTU) is a different story. We have to learn more details at home. Teachers just show us the very overall aspects of the problem. We also have team working but it does different things to my old university. Teamwork at FTU is when you have to learn and prepare theories well to perform better on discussing and solving a given case study or a problem. High tension and intensive working in this environment made me feel tired and stressed. I usually had headaches and felt sleepy. This situation of these psychosomatic problems had lasted for almost 1 year until the second semester came.
I also witnessed cognitive exhaustion when I had just moved to FTU. As a vice monitor, I desired to do something to encourage the learning spirit of my class. But I did not find an appropriate way to do because I found there is a difference between my classmates’ learning style and what I had used to. Stucking in asking what I should do, finally my results were even so bad in first semester. On the other hand, culture shock, if managed effectively, can have some positive effects. I have realized that for the next semesters.
These positive effects include: a sense of well-being and heightened positive self- esteem, emotional richness and enhanced tolerance for ambiguity, behavioral competence in social interaction, cognitive openness and flexibility, and an enhanced optimism about self, others, and the everyday surroundings. Overall, for managing culture shock effectively, there are some practical tools: First, newcomers should realize that culture shock is inevitable. It is an unavoidable experience that most people encounter when relocating from a familiar environment to an unfamiliar one.
Second, new arrivals should understand that culture shock arises because of the unfamiliar environment, when one is bombarded and saturated with unfamiliar cues. Developing a realistically positive outlook in viewing their one-time experience as a precious adventure and doing some positive reframing of surprising events may help to lower their stress level. Third, making an effort to establish broad-based contacts with memers of the host culture and learning to communicate with them can increase local knowledge and reduce such feeling of vulnerability.
Cultivating a deeper, supportive friendship network and easing themselves into the new setting can also help to restore the identity equilibrium state. Likewise, the more members of the host culture extend a helping hand and the more they attempt to increase their familiarity with the new arrivals, the more they can increase the newcomers’ sense of security and inclusion. Fifth, culture shock is induced partly by an intense feeling of incompetence.
By seeking out positive role models or mentors, newcomers may be able to find reliable and competent cultural bridge persons in easing the stress level of their initial culture shock experience. Finally, newcomers should realize that culture shock is a transitional affective phase of stress that ebbs and flows from high to low intensity. New arrivals must hang on to a resilient sense of humor and emphasize the positive aspects of the environment rather than engaging in prolonged concentration on its negative aspects, realizing that these “growing pains” may lead to long- term personal and professional growth and development.
After one semester suffering negative impacts of culture shock, I started to learn how to get used to my new university. I learn the way for effective self-study at home. I also participated in a club to go through what my friends do in this university. I realized that they do not only learn from lectures and textbooks, but they also learn from non- academic activites. I feel happy when I could get along with my courses, follow the discussion in team working, and even make important distributions to the results of my group and my club.
I could say that I have had a better sense of well- being and heightened positive self-esteem. It is hard to imagine whether I will do well in future to adapt in new environment such as a new work place or a new country without experiences about culture shock in the past. Culture shock has trained me to behave more appropriatly in social interaction and think more optimistic about people and things around me everyday. Most of my bad feelings and negative viewpoints are now replaced with the better ones.
By learning to control culture shock and to adapt with new environment, I have also obtained more knowledge and skills that I did not know before. It is undeniable that culture shock has made a force and conditions to me to perfect myself. Although it negative impacts made me nearly exhausted, I also want to say a thank to culture shock experiences of bringing me positive wisdoms for developing a new better version of me.