One always worries about their children. Did we as parents make the right decision? Are our children adapting? Are they thriving? It is true that the younger the child is, the easier it is for them to adapt to a new culture and language. It’s the older ones you have to worry about.
My heart soared today when Emilio blurbed out “I love it here!”. Ahhh…. Soul food. A year ago, he wouldn’t have said that. He has entered the fourth stage of adaptation. His sisters have been there waiting for him. Life is good. God is good. We are so blessed!
What are the commonly accepted cross-culture adaptation phases? See below. One never wants to get stuck in the Negotiation stage. Those that do usually move back home. In fact, Failure in language and/or Cultural Acquisition is one of the top 10 reasons missionaries leave the field prematurely.
How can you help? Please pray for the missionaries around the world to Pass the Test!
The honeymoon phase occurs when the person first moves to a new culture. The person delights in learning about the new place and finds the differences in culture charming. The foods, habits, language and lifestyle all are part of the wondrous discovery process. The honeymoon phase usually lasts between a few days to a month.
The negotiation phase usually begins to occur after several months (two to three). The differences in the culture lose their charm and can create stress. Frustration and anger can occur as the person tries to assimilate. Barriers of language and differences in lifestyle become apparent and can lead to isolation and frustration. Feelings of homesickness are common, and people may experience difficulty cultivating new relationships and communicating meaningfully.
After approximately six months to a year, the person grows used to the new culture and can develop a routine there. The person no longer feels like an outsider and understands subtle cultural nuances. Things begin to normalize. Skills are developed to deal with cultural differences in a positive way. The culture begins to make sense and a deeper appreciation of it can occur.
The mastery stage occurs when a person can fully participate in the culture like a local. Language and communication issues are gone. A local’s understanding occurs, and the person feels at home in the culture. The person does not lose their original cultural orientation but retains it and can comfortably switch back and forth when necessary.
Taken from: Stages of New Culture Adaptation