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What is culture shock? Everybody who has lived abroad has heard about it and probably experienced it themselves. But what is it? It is something all types of expats experience regardless as to whether it’s their first time overseas or if they are veteran expats. Often the deeper the differences in cultures and interpersonal interactions the more likely culture shock will happen and turn cultural transition into a bigger challenge.

Not everyone will feel the same thing or go through the same phases of transition. Some people may feel a sense of anxiety, nervousness and alienation through being in a new environment and/or culture. Some will pass through this phase but for others the only solution is to go home. Trying to understand culture shock will help you overcome it. To minimise the effects, things like learning the language, the culture and religion of a country will help, but basically there are several phases to culture shock which we all feel sometimes, and to some extent.

The Stages or Phases of Culture Shock

First comes the honeymoon phase. This is when an expat is still feeling like a tourist – everything is new and exciting and they explore the environment with enthusiasm. The honeymoon phase, however, usually lasts only a few weeks. Then the rose-tinted glasses fall off!

During the second, or rejection phase, daily life catches up and expats realise how different this new country is to their home country. They tend to focus on conflicts arising from unspoken culture misunderstandings and become frustrated and feel helpless.

Isolation can take place, especially if someone is having a hard time making friends or interacting with locals. Self-doubt and feelings of alienation creep in. Homesickness is another symptom. This isolation phase can last from a few weeks to a few months depending on the person, their previous experiences and their support-network.

Thankfully, after this phase comes an understanding and assimilation and the expat can better deal with everyday life in the new environment.

Finally the expat will adapt (adaption phase) to the new surroundings, culture and people, understanding similarities and differences between there and their home country. They begin to accept and appreciate these differences and even enjoy them!

Reverse Culture Shock

Reverse culture shock is a very real thing. Especially for those expats who have been away from home for a long time. When they return to their home country, they experience the five phases of culture shock all over again!

Repatriation From Nepal

Time leave Nepal and head home? Feeling excited? Feeling apprehensive? Many have felt the same way and there are challenges to get through leaving a country and returning to your homeland.

First of all there are belongings that need shipping, administrative issues need settling and culture shock sets in again.

While there may have been a network of friendly expats and co-workers to help you settle into Nepal, when you return home that network will not be there. Family and friends back home, your new work colleagues, your children’s school etc simply do not have the understanding of what it is like to be repatriated or to be an ex expat!

But don’t worry, with a little forethought you will be just fine!

How to Deal with Repatriation

Make a List!

Start off by making a check list of what you have to do. Divide it into what has to be done here before you leave, what is required to be done before you arrive (where are you going to live? children’s schooling?, work?) and things which can be dealt with when you arrive in your home country. It might seem like an obvious and simple thing to do but it will keep your head above water and make you feel like you are in charge!

Repatriation and Your Career

With the end of their assignment just around the corner, many expats should start thinking about their career. As a former expatriate, your career prospects may have changed for the better and you may be suitable for a promotion or a whole new position in your home country. Your international experience and intercultural skills will make you an asset for any employer. Even if you are just starting on the career ladder in your home country, you will still have a lot of experience and a different outlook to life, both of which will be very attractive to perspective employers.

Thank you: Information for this page has come from the website of Internations, a global expat community which will be extremely helpful to settle you into any new country, and may also be helpful as a place to meet like-minded people when you return home.

About Author

Jackie has lived and travelled in Asia for 27 years, more than 20 of these in Nepal. This writer/ editor is currently the owner of a small vocational training company. She is also involved in the tourism and development sectors. When not working she can be found at live music gigs, at the theatre, or art events.

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