Did you just move to an unfamiliar place? Feeling irritable, sad, or anxious about your new home?

Small pug dog with a sad look on its face wrapped in a blanket on top of a bed. Photo by Matthew Henry on Unsplash

Your feelings are normal.

With some time and effort, these feelings will pass.

As a military spouse, there have been times when I’ve found myself resentful and uncomfortable in a new place. 

Over time, I’ve been able to recognize that while culture shock is real, it doesn’t have to be a permanent state of existence. 

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Are you experiencing culture shock?

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Culture shock is a term that describes the experience and feelings associated with living in unfamiliar surroundings and conditions.

It's typically associated with living in a foreign country, but being immersed in a new culture can happen in your home country too.

Regardless of where you experience culture shock, there are a few things you can do to manage your feelings and thrive in a new place.

Tip #1: Remember, it's a process

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Culture shock happens in phases. Knowing that these feelings of sadness, anger, and frustration with a new culture or environment are only one part of the process can help.

The 4 stages of culture shock:

1. Honeymoon

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  • curious

  • excited

  • positive

2. Hostility & Rejection

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  • frustrated

  • anxious

  • sad

3. Adjustment

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  • objective

  • relaxed

  • finding balance

4. Acceptance & Adaptation

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  • acceptance

  • sense of belonging

  • sensitivity toward the host culture

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Negative feelings about a host culture can be overwhelming at times. Awareness that the next stages of culture shock are adjustment, acceptance, and a more objective stance in general have helped me move through these feelings with more confidence.

Balance and perspective are key to managing the feelings that come with culture shock.


Which of the following mindsets can help you manage culture shock?

Tip #2: Remember what you love

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Maintaining connections to where you come from is vital.

Stay in contact with the people you love and continue to do the things you love to do.

Use technology to help maintain connections regardless of distance.

  • Skype, Facetime, Zoom, WhatsApp

  • Social media

  • Virtual book clubs (or virtual anything)

  • Apple Watch or other fitness trackers

Finding ways to incorporate your old life into your new environment will ground you.

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Alex just moved to a new city for a job. She's surprised by how much she misses her colleagues. What could she do to stay connected?

Tip #3: Find something new to love

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Connect with your new home in meaningful ways.

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Find local hotspots for food, drink, physical activity, museums, religion, or whatever is important to you. Explore the natural world around you by finding local parks, beaches, hiking trails or mountains.

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If you've moved for a job, ask your new coworkers for suggestions on places to visit and things to do.

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A quick internet search can yield some worthwhile results for you to explore. Try something like:

  • Best local restaurants in...

  • Top 20 things to do in...

  • Where to get a drink in...


Alex moved from Colorado to South Carolina. She misses how easy it was to hike a challenging trail or mountain. How might she maintain her love of the outdoors in her new coastal city? Select all that apply.

Take Action

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I've come to love things about all the places I've lived, but not without some conscious effort. Being intentional about managing the unpleasant feelings associated with culture shock will allow you to be present and enjoy your new home.

Here are some ways to get started:


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