Culture Shock or culture fatigue is the difficulty in living in a country or culture that is very different from one's own. For most of the JETs working in Akita, this includes you. The shock of moving to a foreign country often consists of distinct phases, though not everyone passes through these phases and not everyone is in the new culture long enough to pass through all four.
- Initial Euphoria
- Irritation and Hostility
- Gradual Adjustment
- Adaption and Biculturalism
One JET may experience a long stage one, while at the same time a JET living close by may be experiencing the low period of stage two. When a JET “comes out of” stage four they may return to stage one, thus the culture shock cycle is by no means limited to first year JETs. It may continue for years.
Culture Shock: A Close Up
"Culture shock", which is usually manifested in the second stage of the cultural adjustment cycle, is the "condition of emotional upset and tension that becomes chronic for a period of varying duration. It is experienced because you have been exposed to life in an unfamiliar setting, so you react with anxiety, irritation and frustration."
When people leave home they leave familiar, manageable surroundings, routines and social patterns for a new environment completely unfamiliar, without close friends. Everyday life now consists of new customs and social/ethical standards that are very different from your previous way of living. At first, it is difficult to adapt to these new codes of living, regardless of effort made to do so because adaptation to a new environment is a slow process. Loneliness and frustration at not having control of the situation wears the mind and body down emotionally. How emotional somebody is by personality then affects the level of culture shock they experience.
Factors that increase the intensity/duration of culture shock
- ENVIRONMENTAL/ CULTURAL DIFFERENCE: If Japanese culture, customs and ethical standards are different from your "natural environment" of the same elements.
- VOLITION: If coming to Japan was not entirely your own decision. Not as in, “my mum made me go!” but as in subconsciously running away from something or doing it for financial gain.
- FLEXIBILITY: How much previous experience you have had in adjusting to new environments and situations, and how successful those experience