Moving to a new country can be an exciting, even exhilarating experience

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Culture Shock

Moving to a new country can be an exciting, even exhilarating experience.

In a new environment, you somehow feel more alive: seeing new sights, eating new food, hearing the foreign sounds of a new language, and feeling a different climate against your skin stimulate your senses as never before. Soon, however, this sensory bombardment becomes sensory overload. Suddenly, new experiences seem stressful rather than stimulating, and delight turns into discomfort. This is the phenomenon known as culture shock. Culture shock is more than jet lag or homesickness, and it affects nearly everyone who enters a new culture-tourists, business travelers, diplomats, and students alike. Although not everyone experiences culture shock in exactly the same way, many experts agree that it has roughly five stages.

In the first stage, you are excited by your new environment. You experience some simple difficulties such as trying to use the telephone or public transportation, but you consider these small challenges that you can quickly overcome. Your feelings about the new culture are positive, so you are eager to make contact with people and to try new foods. Sooner or later, differences in behavior and customs become more noticeable to you.

This is the second stage of culture shock. Because you do not know

the social customs of the new culture, you may find it difficult to make friends.

For instance, you do not understand how to make "small talk," so it is hard to

carry on a casual, get-acquainted conversation. One day in the school cafeteria, you overhear a conversation. You understand all the words, but you do not understand the meaning. Why is everyone laughing? Are they laughing at you or at some joke that you did not understand? Also, you aren't always sure how to act while shopping. Is this store self-service, or should you wait for a clerk to assist you? If you buy a sweater in the wrong size, can you exchange it? These are not minor challenges; they are major frustrations.

In the third stage, you no longer have positive feelings about the new culture. You feel that you have made a mistake in coming here. Making friends hasn't been easy, so you begin to feel lonely and isolated. Now you want to be with familiar people and eat familiar food. You begin to spend most of your free time with students from your home country, and you eat in restaurants that serve your native food. In fact, food becomes an obsession, and you spend a lot of time planning, shopping for, and cooking food from home.

You know that you are in the fourth stage of culture shock when you have

negative feelings about almost everything. In this stage, you actively reject the new culture. You become critical, suspicious, and irritable. You believe that people are unfriendly, that your landlord is trying to cheat you, that your teachers do not like you, and that the food is making you sick. In fact, you may actually develop stomachaches, headaches, sleeplessness, lethargy, or other physical symptoms.

Finally, you reach the fifth stage. As your language skills improve, you begin to have some success in meeting people and in negotiating situations. You are able to exchange the sweater that was too small, and you can successfully chat about the weather with a stranger on the bus. Your self-confidence grows. After realizing that you cannot change your surroundings, you begin to accept the differences and tolerate them. For instance, the food will never be as tasty as the food in your home country, but you are now able to eat and sometimes even enjoy many dishes. You may not like the way some people in your host country dress or behave in public, but you do not regard their clothes and behavior as wrong-just different.

Concluding Paragraph A

To sum up, culture shock is a very real phenomenon that has been studied

for more than 30 years by psychologists and anthropologist$. Its five phases are (1) positive feelings toward the new culture, (2) awareness of small differences, (3) growing discomfort and need for contact with home culture, (4) negative feelings, and (5) acceptance and adjustment. Symptoms may vary, and not all people experience all five phases. In the end, however, people who suffer culture shock are stronger from having overcome the difficulties and frustrations of adapting to life in a new land.

Concluding Paragraph B

In conclusion, nearly everyone moving to a new country feels some degree

of culture shock. Symptoms may vary, and not all people experience all five

stages. Newcomers with a strong support group may feel at home immediately in the new culture, while others may take months to feel comfortable. Staying in touch with friends and family, keeping a positive attitude, and, above all, learning the language as soon as possible are ways to overcome the difficulties and frustrations of adapting to life in a new land.

Questions on Concluding Paragraph :

1. Which concluding paragraph is a summary of the subtopics? Which one paraphrases the thesis statement?

2. Which concluding paragraph gives suggestions? Which one makes a prediction?
Exercise: Step 1 Read the following "skeleton" essays. Only the introductory paragraph

and topic sentences for the body paragraphs are given.

Step 2 Write a concluding paragraph for each essay.

Essay 1

Controlling Stress

Introductory Paragraph

The busy schedules that most adults face every day have created a growing health problem in the modern world. Stress affects almost everyone, from the highly pressured executive to the busy homemaker or student. It can cause a variety of physical disorders ranging from headaches to stomach ulcers and even alcoholism. Stress, like the common cold, is a problem that cannot be cured; however, it can be controlled. A person can learn to control stress in four ways.
Topic Sentences for Body Paragraphs

A. Set realistic goals.

B. Take up a hobby.

C. Exercise regularly.

D. Maintain close relationships with family and friends.
Concluding Paragraph

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