Stages of Cultural Adjustment

I was flipping through our photos and stumbled upon interesting shots of diagrams and charts that I took from our last days of ICT at CLP (early January). These charts visualize the “Stages of Cultural Adjustment” as well as the symptoms of what someone typically feels during each stage.

The above diagram shows the following stages as well as the level of a person’s productivity and well-being.

  • Stage 1: Honeymoon Stage
  • Stage 2: Cultural Shock Stage
  • Stage 3: Recovery Stage
  • Stage 4: Adjustment Stage

Notice above how our productivity and wellbeing never really goes higher than during the Honeymoon stage.

(hmmm, this looks more like the stages of a typical marriage)


Stage 1: Honeymoon Stage Symptoms

  • Initial enthusiasm (yes)
  • Positive attitude (definitely felt that)
  • Lots of energy (had tons of it)
  • Excitement (of course)
  • It’s fantastic (darn right it was fantastic)

Stage 2: Cultural Shock Symptoms

  • Discouraged (sometimes)
  • Tired (oh yeah, I guess I was)
  • Frustrated (FRUSTRATED)
  • Scared (Momma! MOMMA!!!! – think of Will Ferrell saying that)
  • Homesick (not really, just the comforts of home)
  • Negative (at times)
  • Bored (no time to get bored, too many new things)
  • Stressed (mostly about the unknowns about work, where to live, furnishings)
  • Confused (I’m in Nepal?!?!)
  • Angry (nah)
  • Sick (understatement)

Stage 3: Recovery Stage Symptoms

  • Interested in work and surroundings (yessss, it got interesting)
  • Ask more questions (asked tons of questions)
  • Routines established (favourite shops, foods to cook, paths to get to work)
  • Sense of humour returns (oh come on, it never left)
  • Energy comes back (comes and goes)
  • Feel constructive and useful (on good days, most. In the beginning, I was used everybody to start their gas generator.)
  • Less judgemental (heh, heh)

Stage 4: Adjustment Stage Symptoms)

  • More adventuresome (life here is always an adventure)
  • Seek new learning opportunities (oh…sometimes they seek you)
  • Try out new approaches (especially when things do not work the way you thought it would work)
  • Feel more motivated (definitely in more ways than one)
  • Seek the company of others (sometimes volunteers drives me nuts)
  • Accept the things that cannot be changed (definitely, well said).

Interestingly enough, I’ve experienced all of these stages, have had many ups and downs and I can finally say that I have reached the final adjustment stage where I’m pretty comfortable with my surroundings and life here in Nepal (I can even tell my boss to go jump in a lake if I want to). Coming with a partner definitely helps

I’m not sure where Udaya (my Nepali language teacher) got this from, but so far it is quite accurate.

(ahh, of course, from Google!)