The Uncomfortable Part of Culture Shock

Topics: Culture Shock

The term culture shock was first coined by Kalervo Oberg during the 1950’s.The historical development of the term culture shock comes from the emerging of cultural learning, combining culture and social identity. Due to the many different cultural traditions it is unlikely for cultures foreign to one another understand or adapt to other traditions quickly. Understanding that each culture’s values or communication styles vary, representing different meanings, etc.

Looking into this type of cultural framework there’s a very noticeable type of logical understanding that needs to take place in order to processes the idea of the term culture shock.

Understanding that each person experiences certain scenarios differently consciously, is the first step to understanding the reaction to culture shock when confronted by individuals experiencing culture shock. Of course many agree that stereotypes of foreigners possibly being terrorist should come to an end, but of the lack of education concerning the issue causes people to respond insensitively to the issue.

Whereas, someone facing social discrimination while struggling with social identity coming into a new culture starts off with an automatic disadvantage. I came across an article where multiple individuals shared their different culture shock experiences as new comers in America. One of the bloggers shared a post that really stuck with me. They mentioned how stereotyping alone altered their whole experience entering the U.S.A.

“Only twice in my life has someone called me a name based on being black, and so the idea of blatant racism goes over my head a little bit.

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I just assumed the kids who tried to pick a fight with me were uneducated, it was the effort to hurt me that angered me. I wondered if I were too self-absorbed to realize that I was the odd one out for my skin color not matching my lifestyle when I lived in England — I wasn’t. I am more disgusted today by the idea that the things I do each day affect the perception people have of me because it doesn’t “match” my skin color. “Why do you sound white?” or “You dance like a white girl” and “She trying to be white” are all comments I hear frequently. Now I have become more self-conscious since returning to the States. “(The Collegian 2013, blogger Kirsten Mahon, (2013).

This is a prime example of how the social identity theory generates through social psychology. Skin should not represent an idealized perception or personality. But yet many individuals still tie physical appearances into social behavioral patterns. Hints stereotyping. We influence each other and those around us rather we realize it or not. Evidently when place in group social settings this contributes to one’s social status, as humans we are constantly comparing ourselves to one another. Being accepted into an in group add a sense of gratification to an individual’s self-pride. Therefore being looked upon as an outcast could result in insecurities.

This is one of the main reasons why a lot of those going through the many culture shock phases will also undergo their own process of new social identity. Learning to familiarize with unfamiliar gestures and lifestyles habits such as daily hygiene, dressing, eating, etc. It is easy partake in self-conciseness, not fitting in with the lifestyle habits around you. The more similarities are brought into place within social group settings, the easier it seems for foreigners to picture themselves in similar circumstances compared to their inner-group partners, getting a better understanding of each other’s own cultural identities. For the most part, theories concerning social identity complements the behavioral aspects addressing different cultures.

Realizing that most civilians of a place are not creating standards to comfort its new foreigners but more so to better suite themselves gave me a more clear understanding of the social mindset taking place. There is a certain level of selfishness that comes from societies when faced with differentiation to one’s culture. I believe this is where major part of discrimination comes from. Discrimination itself has a lot to do with the discomfort portion of culture shock. I’ve experienced discrimination myself as a resending resident of the United States from affiliated neighbors. I could imagine just how much more heavy the impact of discrimination feels to a new coming foreigner. Everything surrounding them is pretty much new tradition/culture. Struggling to learn and adapt to new lively hood ways while being discriminated against by so called fellow neighbor would make the experience a lot more unsettling.

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The Uncomfortable Part of Culture Shock. (2021, Dec 31). Retrieved from

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