Coping with culture shock

Understanding culture stress and disorientation

Sometimes people think of culture shock as a one-time event which occurs when one encounters something unfamiliar. It's not. It is a state of accumulated stress and disorientation. It is not simply being confronted with an unfamiliar custom or being offered a strange food.

This diagram by Duane Elmer illustrates two paths that one can take in cross-cultural encounters. One path helps a person get through "culture shock." The other path tends to make it worse. [ Animated version of this diagram ]

Cultural adjustment

Diagram used by permission from Duane Elmer's Cross-Cultural Connections (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press), 72).

    -- Howard Culbertson,

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