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Adjustment to a new culture is not accomplished in a few days. Adjustment is an ongoing process. The following are the four stages of cultural adjustment identified by Gregory Trifonovitch.
This initial stage is characterized by exhilaration, anticipation, and excitement.
When the misunderstandings mount up, you are likely to experience the second stage of cultural adjustment.
The second stage is characterized by frustration, anger, anxiety, and sometimes depression.
You might react to this frustration by rejecting your new environment. You may blame this reaction on local residents. At this point, it is likely that you will display hostility toward your host culture. Some of this hostility is translated into fits of anger over minor frustrations, excessive fear and mistrust of host-country nationals, frequent absenteeism, lack of interest, lack of motivation, and, at worst, complete withdrawal. Many academic problems begin during this stage.
If you find yourself having a difficult time, make an appointment to talk with your Resident Director or someone in the International Office of your host institution.
This third stage follows when you begin to feel relaxed in new situations and begin to laugh at misunderstandings and minor mistakes, which may have caused major headaches in the hostility stage.
By now, you will have made some friends and are able to better manage your life in the host culture.
The final stage occurs when you not only retain allegiance to your home culture but also feel at home in your new location. You have successfully adjusted to the norms and standards of the host culture.