Culture shock can be defined as a psychological condition which a person experiences when exposed to a completely different set of people, whose values and behavior are in stark contrast to what he or she has been brought up to believe as right. Thus, it can be experienced by anybody who is in a new country or has shifted from a town or village to a city.
Reverse culture shock, on the other hand, is a condition faced by people who return to their home country after having stayed in another place for a long time. The symptoms are usually similar, however, the affected person often finds this more surprising and difficult to deal with than the original culture shock.
After the initial phase is over, the individual starts feeling left out, isolated, and confused due to his inability to mingle with others. Not having a support system such as friends and family close by, further aggravates the feeling of inadequacy and isolation.
In the adjustment stage, an individual starts finding his own place in the new environment. He starts adapting to some of the ways of the new culture and is now in a better position to deal with the situation. He begins to understand the culture a bit more, so his negative reactions seen in the previous stage, start to diminish.
In the final stage, the individual imbibes some of the values of the new culture and retains a few of the old ones. He incorporates all those qualities which he feels will help him live comfortably at the new place.
To give an example, Asians such as Indians and Chinese, face a huge culture shock when they move to America to work here. These people, with a different set of values, are initially not accustomed to the way of living in the US and find it difficult to cope with a new environment. They may experience various symptoms.
How to Deal with It
An individual, in a new place and circumstances, can do a number of things to adjust well to the new environment. The most important thing needed is patience, as this process takes time.
The individual should try to learn as much as he can about the new culture, language, and customs. Taking up a course on the local language would help to break the communication barrier.
One can also join a volunteer organization to learn more about the community. Lastly, staying in touch with people from his home country who have shifted residence, talking with family and friends on a regular basis, are some other things that will help the person to deal with this situation.
The key to managing this condition is to be receptive to change and taking the right steps with a positive outlook.