According to Wikipedia, culture shock is:
a term used to describe the anxiety and feelings (of surprise, disorientation, confusion, etc.) felt when people have to operate within an entirely different cultural or social environment, such as a foreign country. It grows out of the difficulties in assimilating the new culture, causing difficulty in knowing what is appropriate and what is not. This is often combined with strong disgust (moral or aesthetical) about certain aspects of the new or different culture.
Because of the strong effect of culture shock, overseas work teams and/or mission groups do not typically visit another country for more than 2-3 weeks. After you have been away from your home culture for more than that amount of time, you begin to significantly sense the differences of the new culture and, oftentimes, will go into shock because of those cultural contrasts.
There is also what is referred to as reverse culture shock. This occurs when you return back to your home country after living in a foreign country for an extended period of time. Click here to visit a website that gives good information about this topic. Reading that web page may also help you to understand a little more of what we are mentally and emotionally feeling in these days of re-entry and cultural transition.
All that to say, out of all of us so far, Max and I think that our 4-year old, Jacob, might be dealing with culture shock the most. We have noticed strong mood swings, a greater level of misbehavior, frequent sickness, mean phrases being said to others, questions such as “How many days are we going to sleep in this house, Mommy?”, “When are we going to that other church again?”, etc. We began to realize that Jacob is the only one of us that never really knew this North American culture beforehand. His home country is Chile. All that is normal to him is chilean. In reality, he is just now being introduced to the culture that each of us became acquainted with for years before moving to Chile.
Thanks for your prayers for our precious, little Jacob as well as for the rest of us as the Lord continues to transition our hearts, souls, bodies, and minds to the culture we now call “home”.
Hebrews 11:9 (NIV) By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise.
Your turn to share: Which person in your family deals with change the hardest?