Culture Shock

Culture shock is the name given to many uncomfortable emotions and reactions that people experience when they move into a new culture that is very different from their own. Please be mindful and considerate of any discomfort from partners as they may be experiencing culture shock. There are five main stages of culture shock:

  1. Honeymoon Phase: The culture is new and exciting; their dreams and expectations about the future seem to be coming true.

  2. Rejection Phase: The realties of life (housing, employment, and family) can become overwhelming. Many things do not go according to plan, and refugees may feel misunderstood by those around them. Persons in the rejection and regression phases may exhibit moodiness, irritability, insomnia, anxiety, or depression. Refugees may have also experienced severe trauma and persecution in their home country and may struggle with these symptoms as well.

  3. Regression Phase: In order to deal with the stressful changes, a refugee may only try to surround himself with people of their own culture.

  4. Recovery Phase: If a person can work through the regression phase, they may be able to accept and feel accepted by American culture.

  5. Reverse Culture Shock: A person may become so accustomed to their new culture that they would exhibit culture shock if they returned to the home country.

Encouraging refugees' to stay in North Carolina during their first three to six months:

  • Oftentimes, through word of mouth, refugees learn about other locations in the U.S. where there are higher concentrations of people of their ethnicity, or there are supposedly better job opportunities. If refugees (specifically) leave N.C. during their first three to six months they will no longer be eligible for government or WRD funding. 

[Parts adapted from World Relief Minnesota, now called Arrive Ministries