Culture shock

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I had an emergency call from a client last week who had moved to a different area of the country and wasn’t sure why she was crying all the time. She had moved to where she had always wanted to live, so why the reason for tears? I diagnosed a common case of culture shock. Now - this is commonly believed to happen when you emigrate or move to a different country and have to go through a period of adjustment. However, the key is in the word ‘shock’ - you don’t have to move to another country to experience it. It can happen when you make a big life change too.

The symptoms of culture shock are not that dissimilar to the normal shock you might experience say, after a car accident.

• Headache

• Upset stomach

• Irritability

• Homesickness

• Helplessness

• Depression, difficulty concentrating

• Insomnia

Having lived in Sydney, Hong Kong, San Francisco and New York, as well as places in the UK including London, I can say that I have experienced some of the above symptoms but luckily not all at once! The worst was when I went travelling at the age of 22 and arrived in Thailand. The travelling was everything I expected, but I wasn’t. I was literally freaking out!

If this sounds like you, here is a list of what to expect as these’s symptoms descend then pass. And they will pass! It doesn’t mean you made the wrong decision, that you can’t cope or that there is something wrong with you.

Stage One – happiness and excitement

Stage Two – irritability and hostility

Stage Three – gradual adjustment

Stage Four – adaptation

Then comes the guilt. You made this happen no 'suck it up’ says the voice in your head. But always remember you have pushed yourself right out of your comfort zone just to keep going. It’s hard and  exhausting to make a big life change. The main point is that you did it! Many people really don’t change their lives because it’s such a scary thing to do. Be proud of yourself and take it one a day at a time.