The Titanic never saw it coming, and you
might not either.
The Iceberg Theory
Picture an iceberg floating in the sea. Doesn’t
look very intimidating right? To the naked eye it’s just a small
piece of ice that penguins and polar bears occasionally play on.
However, not until that cute little penguin hops off the iceberg to
take a dip in the water does it see just how expansive the
underside of an iceberg is. If you apply this theory to culture
shock, it works virtually the same way.
When you first arrive in a new country your introduction to the
culture will happen in two phases. First, you will be exposed to
the visual culture. In other words, the “tip of the iceberg.” This
consists of food, art, music, language, etc. As time progresses,
you will start to experience the second phase of culture, or the
underside of the iceberg. This aspect of the culture is made up of
national mindsets, mannerisms, etiquette, etc.
All of the points listed above probably don’t sound like they have
the ability to “Culture Shock” you, however, when combined together
they can make a fairly large impact on your time abroad.
How do you Know When You've Hit an
Realizing that you've been "Culture Shocked" isn't
always as obvious as you would think. You may not recognize
the signs or mistake them for being homesick or stressed
Making sure you recognize the signs is important so you can
tackle culture shock quickly, before it begins to impede on
your time abroad. So, what are the signs you should look out for?
Glad you asked.
Top Ten Signs of Culture
- Negative stereotyping
- Feeling of Helplessness
For more information about "Crossing Cultures," check out
Michigan State University's website.