Culture Shock and Communication Essay

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Communication is the key to social integration. Communication allows people to share ideas, express their thoughts and effectively contribute to discussions and debates. In most cases, language poses a barrier to communication between different cultures. Having knowledge on cultural diversity is the key to cross-cultural communication. Learning how to better communicate with people whose first language does not match with ours does not mean studying their language and culture. However, it is important to learn the basic about other people culture to understand them. When we have a cultural understanding in a certain country, we will understand more about the people there. Last semester, I was very lucky to learn the subject “Cross-cultural communication” which helped me gain a lot of knowledge about cross-culture communication. In this assignment, I would like to express my thoughts on the knowledge that I have learned through this subject.

In my opinion, this subject is very interesting. I have gained a lot of understanding about intercultural communication. Cultural interference is the interaction between social groups, between subcultures, between ethnic groups and between different cultures. I have learned a lot of concepts related to intercultural communication such as the ethnocentrism, cultural patterns, accuturation, verbal communication,… I also understand that all cultures are equal but different. There are things I think are right in my culture but may not be true in other cultures, and it is absolutely normal because each culture has different standards. This subject also helps me to understand that individuality / collectivity is a way of evaluating an individual according to that culture. In individualistic cultures, that individual is evaluated based on that individual. Collective-based cultures evaluate the individual based on which group of individuals (which may be based on family composition, profession, etc.). The distance of power is the way a society behaves with inequalities in power among its members. Some countries have a great power gap, which means that inequality is quite high. Some other countries have a low power gap, which means the difference between the strong and the weak is very small. The degree of risk aversion is the degree to which people can accept risks and uncertainty in life. In societies where the level of risk aversion is high, people tend to establish, create stable organizations and jobs to minimize risks and ensure financial security. They often take a long time to make decisions because they have to consider every possible risk to try to avoid. Conversely, in a society where the level of risk aversion is low, people often take risks so they make quick decisions. Masculine / feminine is used to describe the orientation of a society / culture. Masculine culture values determination, ambition and career; feminine culture pays more attention to maintaining roles and interdependence and helping those less fortunate. There is a lot of knowledge that I have learned but in this assignment I cannot fully describe.

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During the study program, the part I like the most is the culture shock because I think this is a very familiar issue and anyone of us can face it at some time we don’t know in advance. Imagine that one day you suddenly have to travel to another country to live, what will the first feeling come to you? Being excited or anxious to live in a new environment, familiarize yourself with new cuisine with dishes that you may not have tried before or there is no way you can eat the spices strangely tasting, or having to communicate with strangers in languages you don’t master? You will discover that the foreign language lessons that do not teach you the native slang, or their dialects are all too different, and then you even feel helpless because you cannot communicate fluently with everyone. Are you inferior? Impotent? Lonely? And really want someone around right now to support you? That’s all the feelings my sister experienced when she went to study abroad six years ago. She told me all of her experience when she returned home. She has never experienced culture shock like she did when she moved to America to study. The first few days for her were really difficult, because everything changed completely and was different from in Vietnam. Without family, she must face everything herself. She told me that the hardest part was being able to communicate with people because of the different language. She felt like a puzzle piece trying to jam herself into this puzzle of America only to fit better somewhere else. Not only is it difficult to communicate, my sister also has many difficulties even in eating. When she was in Vietnam, she was quite picky and often allergic to many dishes but since coming to America, she said she only wanted to eat Vietnamese dishes because she did not match American food. It took her a long time to get used to living in America. Even with my family they did not seem to understand the culture shock she was experiencing. It was not like she was coming home from an extended vacation abroad. She was stressed but gradually things got better. She went out to hang out with more friends, she joined university clubs to make more friends, she became more open to people, and it was her friends who helped her to overcome overcome the culture shock.

Going through a culture shock is challenging. However, taking steps to make it a little milder is possible to reduce the levels of worry and anxiety. What is more, the skills you learn as a result will increase cultural intelligence and transform one into a more flexible person, ready to adjust to new circumstances, when it’s needed. Those of us will sometimes experience cultural shocks, maybe it is when you move in, move to work, or maybe when you travel abroad for a long time. In most cases Culture Shock will appear like homesick to most people. Although many people will have different signs of culture shock, it is never hard to tell that someone is suffering from culture shocks. The most common is that someone may look sickly. They will feel sad and lonely. The following are common signs of Culture Shock; Sleeping problems, either sleeping too much or insomnia, getting angered really fast, feeling of being vulnerable or being a target, homesickness, getting obsessed with unusual stuff like cleanliness and urge to cook, feeling insecure and shy, missing your home culture and the fear of learning a new culture and trying to adapt. All people have different symptoms and most are those that have a combination of them. In many cases people are emotional over very trivial issues and you need to be careful with them otherwise you may end up devastating them. But how to deal with cultural shock? The best way to avoid or reduce culture shock is to be enthusiastic. Try to keep your fears at bay. Yearn for a positive interaction with the host and the culture of the people there. It is also important to try and do as much research on the culture of the host. At this time one will get to know of the possible causes of culture shock and find a way to handle it.

After finishing the last semester, I felt very lucky to have this subject in my program. Culture in general sense is the combination of traditions, beliefs, norms, values, etc. Its all about how a person behaves in group or with others. Culture is the deeper level of basic assumptions and beliefs that are shared by members of an organization, that operate unconsciously and define in a basic taken for granted’ fashion or organization’s view of its self and its environment. Communication is the main part of any culture because nobody can explain how he feels or wants to do without communicating with the other. Cross cultural communication thus refers to the communication between people who have differences in any one of the following: styles of working, age, nationality, ethnicity, race, gender, sexual orientation, etc. Cross cultural communication can also refer to the attempts that are made to exchange, negotiate and mediate cultural differences by means of language, gestures and body language. It is how people belonging to different cultures communicate with each other. Thanks to this subject, I have gained a lot of new knowledge.


  1. Cross-Culture Communication –
  2. Cross-Culture communication – Communication Theory:
  3. Stages and symptoms of culture shock –
  4. What Is Culture Shock? –
  5. Culture Shock Stages: Everything You Need to Know –

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