The Four Stages of Culture Shock
Euphoria -- Everything is new and exciting. You are living in a unique place and you see only the best aspects of the environment. However, you begin to notice that where you are living and the local people are different than what you are used to.
Irritation and Hostility -- You begin to notice more and more things that are different than what you are used to. It is no longer exciting living in this foreign country. Although you were initially excited and curious about your new surroundings, you begin to feel irritated, frustrated, angered, and/or depressed. Small nuisances and inconveniences lead to catastrophic upsets. Some symptoms you may experience include homesickness, boredom, withdrawal (spending excessive time reading, only socializing with other Americans, or avoiding contact with local people, etc.), sleeping for excessive periods of time, compulsive eating or drinking, irritability, nightmares, exaggerated cleanliness, and stereotyping of or hostility towards local people. You could feel as if you have lost the ability to work effectively, have unexplainable fits of weeping, and physical ailments (psychosomatic illness).
Most people only experience a few of these symptoms, but the second stage of culture shock can be a difficult period and may last for a long time. It is important and helpful to be aware of these symptoms in order to understand when it happens to you or your friends. Taking steps to counteract these feelings is also a way to feel better. It is also important to share this information with parents and close friends back home. This way they will be able to provide comfort because they are aware of what is happening.
Gradual Adjustment -- You begin to adjust, and your attitude towards your local country, its customs, and people improve. Cultural differences do not seem as important and you are able to interpret such customs. Overall, the culture is more familiar and you begin to feel more comfortable and less isolated. Your sense of humor reappears and jokes about yourself and host country can be made. Your self-confidence will improve and the situation will not seem as discouraging or stressful.
Adaptation or Biculturalism -- You completely recover once you can approach your home culture and the overseas culture with confidence. Your attitude has changed and you accept your new environment as another way of living.