Preliminary Stage: The preliminary phase includes anticipation of and preparation for your journey.
It is characterized by a growing awareness of the host culture, preparation for the
trip, and involvement in farewell activities.
Initial Euphoria: The initial euphoric phase begins with your arrival in the new country. Everything
seems wonderful and exciting at first, and you’re struck by how similar people seem
Irritability: During the irritability phase, your focus turns from the similarities to the differences.
You will be acclimating to your setting and will likely become frustrated with elementary
aspects of everyday life because things still appear so foreign to you. Insignificant
difficulties can seem like major problems. One typical reaction during this stage
is to associate mainly with other Americans -- but remember, you are going abroad
to get to know your host country, its people, culture, and language. If you avoid
contact with others, you cheat yourself of valuable experiences and lengthen the process
Gradual Adjustment: When you become more used to the new culture, you will slip into the gradual adjustment
stage -- you may not even be aware that this is happening. You will begin to orient
yourself, to interpret subtle cultural clues, and to feel comfortable and familiar
with the culture.
Adaptation and Biculturalism: Eventually, not only will you be more comfortable with the host culture, but you
may also feel a part of it and even value aspects of it over your native culture.
Re-Entry Phase: The re-entry phase occurs when you return home. For some, this can be the most
painful phase of all. You will be excited about sharing your experiences, and you
will realize that you have changed, although you may not be able to explain how.
You may find it difficult to communicate effectively with your family and friends
because they have not shared your overseas experiences. Moreover, your family may
not adjust well to your new independence and changed values. You and your friends
may no longer be as close and you may miss the new friends you made while overseas.
Your may feel like you no longer fit into the campus culture -- or American culture
in general. Remember, though, that just as you found your equilibrium in your host
country, so you will find it again at home. Remember, too, that you will never be
quite the same person you were before traveling.
(Adapted from the University of California–Irvine’s Center for International Education)