Recovering from Reverse Culture Shock

Lifestyle Travel

If you spent extensive time in another country and have returned ‘home’ now then seek out counseling and a re-entry retreat with debriefing.     Read: 6 Tips for Dealing with Culture Shock

Let’s go back to the first use of the term

Kalervo Oberg (1901–1973) was a Canadian anthropologist who traveled the world and wrote about these experiences so others could enjoy them as well. Oberg is perhaps best known for applying the term culture shock to all people who travel abroad into new cultures and for his doctoral dissertation, The Social Economy of the Tlingit Indians of Alaska.

It comes in phases…

The stages of Culture Shock

Honeymoon Phase
The honeymoon phase coincides with the arrival in a new country and the first period of contact with a new culture, this phase is usually brief, it may last few days or weeks. During the honeymoon phase, the traveler is fascinated with the sights, sounds, and tastes of the new culture. Things are seen as new, different, and interesting and the whole experience is lived as an exhilarating event, often accompanied by a sense of unreality. In this phase similarities between cultures stand out, differences are minimized and romanticized and negative events are ignored.

Crisis Phase
In the crisis phase the sojourner’s negative perception of the host culture and its differences is enhanced. The crisis arises as a result of puzzling encounters and interactions. The traveler begins to experience real and seemingly unresolvable problems. Difficulty in managing communication and common daily activities such as shopping or transportation, contribute to feelings of frustration, hostility, stress, and anxiety. Consequently, the individual tends to alienate and withdraw from the host culture.This phase varies in duration, the length of this period is determined by one’s ability and motivation to start integrating into the host culture.

Recovery Phase
During the recovery phase, the visitor learns how to function in the new culture and be independent. Confidence is slowly restored and competency increases as a result of new learned social behaviors. In this way the individual starts to acquire and assimilate culturally relevant and appropriate ways to interact and communicate. He or she develops appropriate problem solving skills and conflict resolution mechanisms. As a result of increased confidence and familiarity with the host environment, cultural perception of the foreign culture also starts to change

Adjustment Phase
During this phase the individual starts to adapt to the new culture, embrace its differences and accept what it has to offer.This phase is marked by low anxiety and the increased ability of the traveler to interact successfully with members of the host culture and and build social relationships. This phase also brings a sense of satisfaction, accomplishment, and personal growth for having overcome culture shock.


  1. Irritability
  2. Feeling anger over the smallest inconveniences
  3. Withdrawal from people who are different from you
  4. Extreme homesickness
  5. A sudden intense feeling of loyalty to own culture
  6. Overeating or the loss of appetite
  7. Boredom
  8. A need for excessive sleep
  9. Headaches
  10. Upset stomach
  11. Depression
  12. Loss of ability to work or study effectively
  13. Unexplainable crying
  14. Marital or relationship stress
  15. Exaggerated cleanliness
  16. Feeling sick much of the time


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