Living abroad – particularly if you’re living in a country that’s as fascinating as the UAE, can be quite an exhilarating and exciting experience. You get to explore a new culture, understand new world views, and travel unfamiliar terrains. However, for some, living abroad can also invite a sense of unfamiliarity, a feeling that you’re lost in the world.
So, if you’ve just moved to the United Arab Emirates, you may be going through a little culture shock. However, there’s no need to worry. Remember, you’re not the only foreigner living in the UAE. There are almost 8.5 million expats currently residing in the country.
Now, culture shock isn’t a new phenomenon. Almost everyone experiences it at some point in their lives. In fact, realizing that it’s a normal thing can actually be beneficial for you. Over the course of this blog post, we’ll go through the different stages of culture shock.
Stage 1: The Honeymoon Phase
Quite often, the initial stage of culture stock is quite positive. You revel in the novelty of your new surroundings, and become lost in fascination of the people, the food, and the language. During this stage, it feels like it’s the beginning of an exciting adventure and your decision to move countries seems like the best one you ever made.
Stage 2: The Frustration Phase
This is perhaps the most difficult phase of culture shock. When you’re at this stage, you’ve grown weary of struggling to understand signs, gestures, and the language, and may be finding it difficult to communicate. This stage is often riddled with bouts of homesickness and depression.
Stage 3: The Adjustment Phase
Subduing frustration with the unfamiliarity of your surroundings marks the beginning of the ‘adjustment phase’. When you reach this stage, you start to feel more comfortable with the people, the languages, the food, and the cultures. Navigation and communication become simpler, and you start to make friends and establish a network of support.
The Final Stage: Acceptance
After you’ve struggled for weeks, months, of years with the emotional impacts of the stages outlined above, you reach the last stage – acceptance. Now, acceptance doesn’t mean that you’ve completely understood your new surroundings and cultures, instead it signifies that you’ve accepted that complete understanding isn’t important to survive and thrive in your new environment.
It’s during this stage that a foreigner is able to identify and put together the resources they need to feel comfortable.
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