"You always return from a journey as a different man to the one who set off."
The anthropologist Kalervo Oberg (1901-1973) describes culture shock as the anxiety that results from losing our familiar signs and symbols of social intercourse and therefore losing orientation in daily life when we enter a "strange" culture.
He calls the first stage abroad the honeymoon stage during which people are fascinated by the new. When individuals have to cope with real conditions of life abroad (e.g. house, transportation or language trouble), the second stage (i.e. crisis) follows in which fascination turns into a hostile and aggressive attitude towards the host country. According to Oberg, individuals blame the people from the host country for their difficulties, start disliking, criticising and stereotyping them and take refuge in the colony of their country. If people manage to overcome this crisis, they stay, if not, they leave before reaching the next stage, which is recovery. In this stage, the visitor begins to open the way into the new cultural environment, takes a superior attitude to the people of the host country (instead of criticising makes jokes about them). In the fourth stage the adjustment is complete, the individual accepts the customs of the country as just another way of living and starts enjoying them (Oberg, 2006/1960).
The last stage also implies that when you return home you may take things back with you, things that shaped you. Parts of the once "strange" culture become part of you. Since you have become "different from the one who set off" a reverse culture shock (re-entry shock or own culture shock) may take place when you return home.
Oberg, K. (2006) Culture Shock: Adjustment to New Cultural Environments. curare 29(2+3), 142-146 (reprint from 1960, Practical Anthropology, 7, 177-182), photo via