Culture Shock

A couple of months ago, here on this blog, I wrote about my experiences of homesickness and culture shock when I was out in Azerbaijan teaching IELTS. Although a lot of water has passed under the bridge since I was in Baku, and I now look back fondly on my time there, I vividly remember the feelings of loneliness and frustration I encountered. It made me wonder why I was feeling the way I was, and whether these feelings were natural.

It’s generally accepted that there are four common stages of homesickness, which are as follows:

  1. Exaltation – when you first arrive in a new country everything is so new, fresh and exciting. You feel a sense of wonder as each day is like an adventure. This can last for a few days or a few weeks. But it won’t last forever.
  2. Frustration – after you’ve been in a new environment for some time, you begin to ask yourself why you’re there – or more specifically, what are you doing here when you could be back home with your friends and family where you belong. You begin to miss the things you took for granted at home, like watching familiar programmes on TV or reading the paper.
  3. Depression – this is the next, and the hardest, stage of homesickness. You often feel isolated or reluctant to go out. You may find that you sleep a lot more than you usually do, and that you are generally unhappy.
  4. Acceptance – at this point you come to the realisation that although your new home isn’t perfect, neither is anywhere else. You start to adapt to the culture and begin to feel that you fit in more. You develop routines, learn a bit of the lingo and even make some friends among the locals.

In my case, I experienced all of these stages bar the last one. I was only away from home for a few weeks, though had it been longer I’m sure I would’ve got to stage four. We see a lot of students here at the school that go through some, if not all of these phases. The main thing to remember, and I have experienced this first hand, is that they are only temporary, and there are always things you can do to help.

Have you ever experienced culture shock or homesickness? If so, how did you get through the darker days? Please let me know, and I’ll write again soon with some ideas of my own to help speed up the process.

If you'd like to read my original post on homesickness, you can do here.


  • water under the bridge - (idiom.) an expression meaning that a lot of time has gone by
  • to look back fondly - (phr.v + adv.) to remember something in a positive way
  • vividly - (adv.) clearly
  • exaltation - (n.) a feeling of excitement and happiness
  • a sense of wonder - (fixed expression) a feeling that everything experience is exciting and new
  • more specifically - (adv.) more importantly
  • take sth for granted - (fixed expression) to get used to having something which you would perhaps miss if it was taken away
  • to adapt - (v.) to change in order to suit certain conditions
  • lingo - (n.) language (slang)
  • bar - (v.) apart from
  • phase - (n.) stage/period
  • to experience sth first hand - (idiom) to have personal experience of something
  • darker days - (adj. + n.) difficult times


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