Concerning culture:   1) Have you ever experienced any culture shock? 2) Have you ever experienced reverse culture shock? 3) What do you like most about your own culture? 4) What are typical foods served in the culture? 5) Is your culture different from the culture of other people in your country?

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The questions asked below are actually personal reflections; they are asking you, and only you, to personally reflect on your own culture, your own experiences with culture, and to decide if you've ever experienced any form of culture shock or reverse culture shock. However, you may have a better time reflecting on your own personal experiences if you better understand the meanings of the terms culture, culture shock, and reverse culture shock.

Culture refers to such things as the values, beliefs, attitudes, religions, and ideas held by a specific group of people over multiple generations (Texas A&M University, "Culture"). Culture is reflected in the way people communicate through both verbal and non-verbal language and in the way they behave, such as what they eat, how they dress, customs, etc.

Culture shock is defined as any trauma or stress experienced when a person moves to a location that has a very different culture from the previous location, as one shifts from experiencing one culture to experiencing another culture. Culture shock can be derived from communication difficulties, having to get accustomed to new foods, not having access to the same sanitation standards previously used to, and many other reasons. There can be four to five stages to experiencing culture shock.

The first stage is feeling excited about experiencing the new culture, which can lead a person to fail to notice anything that will soon make the person feel uncomfortable. The second stage is called the "crisis period," which is the moment a person starts to feel disappointed and overwhelmed by the new culture because it's so vastly different from the person's original culture. During the crisis period, a person may start to feel irritated, angry, or make "rude remarks" or jokes about the culture as a means of alleviating stress. The third stage is the "adjustment phase" in which the person learns to "accept the culture" and decides to act positively rather than negatively. The fourth stage is known as the "acceptance and adaption phase" and describes the moment the person starts to "feel at home" in the new culture (UniBusiness, University of Northern Iowa, College of Business Administration, "Culture Shock").

Hence, when examining if you've ever experienced culture shock, you want to think about your own culture and think about a moment when you've had to spend a lot of time in a culture different from your own. You can then think about if you have experienced any of the four stages of culture shock above.

The fifth stage of culture shock can either be called "reverse culture shock" or "reentry shock." This fifth stage is only experienced by people who return to their native location or culture after being in a different location with a different culture for a while. People can experience reverse culture shock upon coming home from a vacation, especially a very long vacation. During this phase, people start feeling out of place in their native home and must go through a new period of adjustment, just like they did when they had to adjust to the new culture ("Culture Shock"). Reverse culture shock can make a person feel withdrawn, irritable, bored, and even depressed.

Hence, when considering if you have ever experienced reverse culture shock, think about any times you have traveled. When you returned, did you have to go through a period of adjustment in order to feel comfortable in your own culture once again?

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