Culture Shock:Stages of cultural adaptation

New cultures are a challenge to understand. When exposed to a new culture we go through a series of changes to help us to adapt to a new environment . These adaptations often come as a roller coaster of situations with these phases.

The Honeymoon Stage:

This stage is all about expectations. Everything is new, exciting and fun. This is what you came for to begin with, however this stage does not last. This stage lasts anywhere between a week to a few months.

Culture Shock: Hold on. What is this? All of the sudden you start to ask yourself what are you doing here and why is everybody so strange. The difference in cultures will become more evident and suddenly you don’t find the new culture as exciting as you thought you would.

Stages of cultural adaptation

Some indicators of culture shock are: Homesickness,compulsive eating/drinking, headaches, irritability, boredom, desire to sleep in excess, inability to concentrate, crying ,and others.

Not everyone experiences severe culture shock or experiences these symptoms. Don’t be surprised if you experience culture shock, it’s normal!

Adjustment: During this stage culture shocks gradually disappears and you start to make more friends and pickup cultural clues more easily . Suddenly you the unfamiliar become familiar and you manage to avoid the pitfalls that made you feel culture shock in the first place.

Unresolved problems: There are some things that you might never get used to and this is fine. You are not going to like absolutely everything. This could be small things like food, weather , your commute, anything really.

Adaptation: You made it! Now you are able to function comfortably in your host culture and your own. Remember there are always new and exciting things to learn!

What immunizations to get for traveling to Guatemala?

Many volunteers and teachers ask us what vaccinations should they get when visiting Guatemala. There are no big epidemics in Guatemala at the moment of writing this article, but here are a few pointers from us:

Malaria : Malaria is not a big issue in Guatemala, but if you are going to be visiting the tropical regions of Guatemala or are going to be spending a lot of time outdoors we recommend using mosquito repellent and avoiding getting bit by mosquitoes.

Hepatitis vaccines A/B: If you are working in healthcare program and haven’t already had immunizations for hepatitis A and B , we recommend that you do so before starting your time as volunteer as clinics can receive patients that are infected with Hepatitis.

-Flu-shot: Not a must have immunization but it certainly helps while traveling as you will be meeting many people along the way.

Zika and Dengue: Both are diseases transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes that are mostly found in the coastal and jungle regions of Guatemala. While both diseases are not extremely common and usually have mild consequences if treated correctly, we recommend using mosquito repellent and a mosquito net at night to drastically reduce mosquito bites.

Remember to practice good hygiene, only drink filtered or bottled water and avoid eating in street food stands.



More in depth information and recoommendations can be found at the CDC’s website.