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Cultural shock

The people that react the worst are the ones that leave in search of adventure with an unrealistic expectation in hoping of « changing the world ».  It is a true fact that we all wish that our stay will leave a trace.  We all hope that our teaching was fruitful.  We need to know that we shouldn’t force things but instead get in the rhythm of the area.  It is for us to adapt to them, not the other way around.

It is normal to go through different steps of the cultural shock :
  • Phase of enthusiasm

    • It is the exhilaration, you are so excited to leave.  Your bags are all ready but you might not yet be totally ready.  You are eager to see the culture, see the natives and/or the Inuits.  You really want to taste the culture with all your senses.  At the work level, it’s new and very exciting.  You learn new things and the work team is very tolerant towards you.
    • Everyone is beautiful and nice.  Life is beautiful!
  • Phase of shock

    • Gradually, you realize that not everything is perfect.  You expected something and finally, it’s not at all what is happening.  You are disappointed.  For example, you were expecting to see complex cases and to be constantly stimulated at the work level.  Since you are in a very small community, it is not very busy and you have seen only minor cases.  Deception:  your expectations were not realistic.  Everybody has a more or less big phase of the cultural shock, everything is in function of your preparation and your expectations.

      • You are starting to miss your family and friends, you have created new friendships but they are not strong enough to allow you to really express what you are thinking.  You are starting to feel the isolation.
      • You become more and more aware of certain actions and gestures that can disturb your values.  You ask yourself what you’re doing here: you are in your cultural shock!
  • Phase of adaptation

    • If you persist and get to the next step, you will notice that finally, slowly, things fall back into place.  At the work level, you notice that there are so many things to do that the time just flies by and it’s very exhilarating.  Your work colleagues become close friends.  You do not always understand the conduct of some of your clients and certain actions will still go against your values but you are in measure to better understand the reasons why they act that way. You tell yourself that you will not be able to change them and that you are doing a good job where the goal is to help them.  You are comfortable in the Great North and mostly happy to not have taken the next plane when you were in your phase of shock!
In the training Introduction to working in remote regions, we help you get well prepared to lower the intensity and the duration of the cultural shock.





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