Cultural Rehydration: A Layman’s Guide to Dealing with Culture Shock by Dr. Gerald W. Anthony - HTML preview

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Cultural Rehydration: A Layman’s Guide to Dealing with Culture Shock
By:
Gerald W. Anthony, PhD
Edited by:
Lee Seetoo

 

Copyright © 2009 by Gerald W. Anthony

 

CONTENTS

Chapter 1: Introduction 4
Why the Metaphor?
Chapter 2: The Cultural Adaptation Cycle 8
The Evaluation Stage
The Interpretation Stage
The Application Stage
The Readjustment Stage
Chapter 3: Pre-Departure 20
Chapter 4: In Country 27
Cultural Rehydration Therapy
Chapter 5: Returning Home 37
List of Figures 43
Works Cited 44

Copyright © 2009 by Gerald W. Anthony

 

Chapter 1: Introduction

 

Life does not always go as expected. One day friends were coming to a dinner I

 

had planned and I realized after the first guest arrived that I needed more money for the

 

occasion. I asked my friend to wait at my apartment for the other guests while I went to

 

the bank to make a withdrawal.

 

In the country where I was living at the time, families commonly use bicycles for

 

transportation rather than cars. I hopped on (not in) my vehicle and rushed off to the

 

bank. I turned on the “heat” (that is, I started to pedal faster) and after a few blocks, I

 

arrived. I descended from my bicycle, grabbed my lock, and fastened it around my back

 

tire.

 

I ran into the bank as fast as I could so as not to keep my guests waiting too long

 

and quickly handled my banking matters. When I came out, I reached for the key to

 

unlock my bike. In my left trouser pocket there was only loose change. The right pocket

 

was empty. Finally, I examined my back pockets only to realize that I did not have my

 

key. It had not fallen out of my pocket, but was back in my apartment.

 

I weighed my options. Should I call my friend for the key and listen to mockery

 

for a few hours or try to get the locked bike home somehow? Sad to say, I chose to move

 

the bike. Unfortunately, I have my pride. Because the rear wheel was locked, I raised

 

the back of the bike, tipped it forward and pushed. It was like being in a three-legged

 

race with no competition.

 

As I walked down the street everyone stared at me and whispered, “Look at that

 

foreigner! What is he doing?” If was as if they were in the US or Western Europe

 

watching someone try to hotwire a car on the street. Yes, it must have seemed that I was Copyright © 2009 by Gerald W. Anthony

 

stealing a bike! I just ignored the comments and continued walking faster trying to make

 

it home. I arrived at the door sweating and out of breath. My shirt was three shades

 

darker from my perspiration and my hand was beet red from gripping my handlebars.

 

After listening to my adventure, my friend laughed and said, “Why didn’t you just call

 

me?” I knew why. There was one reason and one reason only: all because of my male

 

pride. (Anthony, 2007).

 

Expatriates are people who voluntarily live outside their native countries. I have

 

been an expatriate since 2002 and have experienced quite a number of cases where

 

therapeutic processing would be helpful, not only to me, but to fellow expats around the

 

world. This book examines struggles in preparation, living, and returning to different

 

countries and strategies to effectively increase coping mechanisms and survival1 through

 

the use of real-life stories (labeled Hydration Checkpoints), personal psychological

 

application exercises using an accompanying workbook, and a very practical metaphor –

 

Cultural Hydration.

 

Why the Metaphor?

 

Our bodies need water to survive. The majority of the human body is water (an

 

average of 60%) so it is vital that we replenish this resource frequently in order to

 

maintain our ability to function. Dehydration is a medical condition in which the body

 

lacks an adequate supply of water to function properly. Our bodies lose water as we

 

breathe, sweat, urinate, or suffer from vomiting or diarrhea. When the amount of water 1 In case of emergencies, this book does not substitute for professional counselors. Please contact a professional counselor if you are dealing with an emergency.
Copyright © 2009 by Gerald W. Anthony

 

we lose is greater than the amount we take in, we become dehydrated. This is usually a

 

process that happens over time and not a sudden event because, in the short-term, if our

 

body lacks water, we have natural defense mechanisms to compensate. We get thirsty,

 

signaling the need to drink. Our kidneys reduce the water in our urine; it becomes more

 

concentrated and darker in color when we are dehydrated. Other symptoms of

 

dehydration include dry mouth, headaches, increased heart rate, inability to sweat or

 

produce tears, muscle cramps, vomiting, lightheadedness, and confusion. Dehydration

 

can be treated by gradually increasing the amount of liquid in our body by repeatedly

 

drinking small amounts or through IV drips; however, the greatest cure for dehydration is

 

prevention. Without proper hydration, the body will break down and slowly cease to

 

function (Medicine.net, 2009).

 

Cultural paralysis is a condition experienced by expatriates that causes them to

 

feel unable to function in a foreign environment. Like dehydration, it is usually a process

 

that has developed over time, and can cause changes in the mind and body. The body can

 

compensate for the discomfort of the environment for short-periods of time, but if not

 

properly handled, the body and mind tend to break down. Once paralysis takes place,

 

recovery takes place through frequent small doses of therapeutic exercises. Because of

 

its similarities to dehydration, cultural paralysis can be considered cultural dehydration,

 

and the cure is cultural rehydration.

 

To determine how much of our body composition is water, there are various

 

formulas that take into account age, height, and weight. Similarly, there are key variables

 

we can use to calculate how culturally hydrated or dehydrated we are. Expatriates

 

Copyright © 2009 by Gerald W. Anthony planning to live in or visit a new culture must understand the reality of both obvious and

 

subtle factors that will allow them to thrive in an overseas environment.

 

The first step to overcoming dehydration is to understand the normal process of

 

hydration. If we do not understand that our bodies need water, how can we solve the

 

problem of dehydration? The same is true for cultural dehydration. If we do not first

 

understand the natural processes that our minds and bodies go through when we enter

 

foreign cultures, then it will be hard to remedy cultural dehydration and allow cultural

 

rehydration.

 

In the next chapter, we will discuss the Cultural Adaptation Process that

 

expatriates experience in a new cultural environment. The stresses of that process can

 

and often do lead to cultural dehydration. In the three chapters after that, we will learn

 

techniques that will serve as hydrators in cases of cultural dehydration.

 

Are you ready to get culturally hydrated?

 

Copyright © 2009 by Gerald W. Anthony

 

Chapter 2: The Cultural Adaptation Process

 

The Cultural Adaptation Process (or Hydration Cycle) is a four-stage process that

 

occurs within individuals as they adjust to a new culture and experiences in that new

 

culture. The four stages are: (1) The Evaluation Stage, (2) The Interpretation Stage, (3)

 

The Application Stage, and (4) The Readjustment Stage.

 

Hydration Checkpoint

 

I once had the pleasure of being the local contact for a group of new expatriates

 

arriving in the country where I resided half a world away from their home. These

 

individuals had been contacting me for weeks with various questions on just about

 

everything imaginable. Their arrival day came and I picked them up at the airport and

 

took them to their respective homes after a good meal. During dinner that evening there

 

were various emotions at the table. Some people were excited, others were anxious, and

 

others were absolutely terrified. It was all normal.

 

One week later I decided to make a surprise visit to each new expat to make them

 

feel welcome with a small house warming present of fruit. As I went to each person’s

 

home, they were thrilled to see me. I would chat a while, see how they were adjusting,

 

and then move on to the next residence. When I arrived at the last one, I knocked on the

 

door and waited for a response. There was none. I knocked again thinking maybe

 

nobody was home. After the second knock, I heard a faint voice. It seemed as if I had

 

disrupted an afternoon nap. The door opened and my mouth dropped. Was this the same

 

person I had picked up from the airport? I handed the basket of fresh apples, oranges,

 

bananas, and local exotic fruit to the new expatriate. Without even inviting me in, the

 

Copyright © 2009 by Gerald W. Anthony person snatched the bag of fruit from my hands and began to devour each piece of fruit

 

one by one, chunk by chunk. I stepped inside and sat down on a short wooden stool.

 

When the expatriate was finished, I asked in a voice mixing sarcasm and disbelief, “So,

 

how was the first week?” After a deep breath and a wipe of the mouth with a shirt sleeve,

 

the expat said, “Thanks for coming by. I haven’t eaten in a week!”

 

The Evaluation Stage

 

The first stage of the Cultural Hydration Cycle is the Evaluation Stage. When an

 

individual arrives in a new culture, or discovers a new facet of the culture, the first action

 

that takes place is an assessment or evaluation of resources and environment. Resources

 

can be divided into three main categories: (1) Personal Resources, (2) Social Resources,

 

and (3) Material Resources2 (Schultz and Schwarzer, 2001, p. 4).

 

Personal Resources include characteristics and experiences of the individual, such

 

as personality, mental processes, and working experience. Social Resources include all

 

formal and informal relationships. Working and professional relationships are formal

 

relationships; family, friends, and all other relationships not defined as formal are

 

informal. Finally, Material Resources are all tangible resources that can be consumed by

 

the individual, such as food, shelter, and money. These three types of resources will be

 

evaluated immediately upon entering a new culture or a new cultural situation.

 

In addition to evaluating resources, the individual also evaluates the environment,

 

which can be divided into two aspects: (1) Flexible and (2) Relatively Inflexible.

 

Flexible refers to aspects of the environment that can be changed in the short term by an 2 See Exercise 2 in The Cultural Rehydration Workbook.
Copyright © 2009 by Gerald W. Anthony

 

individual or group acting in the environment, like the economy, fashion, and slang.

 

Relatively Inflexible refers to aspects of the environment that change only very slowly

 

over long periods of time, like the fundamental culture or national language, and would

 

include population and climate. Since you can’t expect to exert much influence over

 

Relatively Inflexible aspects of the environment, you are better off trying to accept and

 

adapt to them. Figure 2.1 graphs the Evaluation Stage of the Cultural Adjustment Cycle

 

(Anthony, 2009).

Personal Resources Resources Social Resources
Material Resources Evaluate
Environment Flexible Environment
Relatively Inflexible
Environment

Figure 2.1 The Evaluation Stage

 

The individual evaluates resources and the environment primarily through

 

observation and secondary informational resources (information shared personally by

 

others or found in written form). After evaluation, the individual continues to the next

 

stage, the Interpretation Stage.

 

Hydration Checkpoint

 

Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus. Americans are from America

 

and Patagonians are from Patagonia. These two sentences contrast different people and

 

places, but with the same meaning. I experienced this one night when I was out dancing

 

with some coworkers.

 

We entered a room about one hundred square meters in area. This was the local

 

club. To us foreigners it looked more like a vacant office. In the front of the room was a

 

Copyright © 2009 by Gerald W. Anthony bar. In the left and right corners dangled black concert-sized speakers. The rest of the

 

room was open space with coffee-colored wooden tiled floors for dancing. There was no

 

disc jockey, simply a “greatest hits” cassette playing on repeat.

 

At first the dance floor was empty. The thirty or so people present were quietly

 

chatting while sipping their drinks. Then the first song came on – a group dance that

 

included instructions on how to do the dance. The atmosphere was immediately

 

energized. Everyone ran out on the dance floor and lined up. The nationals grabbed us

 

foreigners with screams of, “I love this song!” Confused and at the same time eager to

 

try new things, we also ran out on the dance floor. The volume of the song softened, and

 

then the singer in the local language gave the instructions. We foreigners could not

 

understand a single word, but the broadening smiles were a language we could

 

understand. The people lined up in a circle and began to scream louder with enthusiasm.

 

We joined the circle as the beat began to grow louder. The drums began to pulse

 

and the singer was no longer talking, but singing. As we began to watch the movements

 

of the nationals, we began to recognize the melody and the movements. Screams of joy

 

surrounded us. It was the hokey-pokey! Putting our egos aside we began to dance.

 

A national beside me asked, “Am I right?” I replied, “Yes.” As I continued

 

dancing, the question was repeated, “Am I right?” I looked at her movements and replied

 

again, “Yes.” When she asked a third time, I understood that my interpretation of the

 

question was incorrect. In fact it was not a question at all. The national was telling me,

 

“I am right; follow me. You are dancing incorrectly.”

 

Copyright © 2009 by Gerald W. Anthony

 

The Interpretation Stage

 

The Interpretation Stage consists of the individual creating “Labels of

 

Belonging,” in various areas to identify a respective place in the new culture. Labels of

 

Belonging are mental processes an individual goes through to make a judgment of high or

 

low inclusion in regard to a specific aspect. Labels of Belonging apply to three areas: (1)

 

Class Placement, (2) Language Placement, and (3) the Ability to Gather Information.

 

Class Placement establishes a ranking in such areas as power, authority, wealth,

 

working and living conditions, life-styles, life span, religion, education, and culture

 

(Cody, 2002). The distinction between inequalities leads to the creation of superior and

 

inferior groups in each category. Secondly, Language Placement allows individuals to

 

put a label on how well they can communicate in the culture by speaking the new

 

country’s language, listening, reading, and writing. Finally, individuals interpret their

 

Ability to Gather Information. The weaker the individual’s Ability to Gather Information,

 

the lower their self-placement becomes. Each of the three areas of interpretation can be

 

assessed as High or Low. (Intermediate is not commonly considered in a quick

 

assessment: the individual quickly develops either a High or Low self-identification.)

 

After each area is interpreted, a general interpretation is created from the Labels of

 

Belonging to form an Estimate of Probability of Success.3 Figure 2.1 shows a visual representation of The Interpretation Stage. 3 See Exercise 3 in The Cultural Rehydration Workbook.
Copyright © 2009 by Gerald W. Anthony

Class Placement Label of Belonging High or Low

Language Placement Label of Belonging High or Low

Estimate of Probability of Success High or Low

Ability to Gather Information Label of Belonging High or Low

Figure 2.1 The Interpretation Stage

 

To arrive at an Estimate of High or Low Probability of Success, the number of

 

Highs and Lows from the Labels of Belonging are tallied. Since there are an odd number

 

of Labels of Belonging and no intermediate answers, the composite estimate of

 

Probability of Success in the new culture must ultimately be either High or Low. After

 

an estimate is reached, the individual moves on to the Application Stage.

 

Hydration Checkpoint

 

Traffic patterns can vary among regions within a country. To an even greater

 

extent they can vary between different countries. Some countries drive on the left side of

 

the road, others on the right. Some countries have aggressive traffic laws (or

 

enforcement), while other countries are more relaxed.

 

In a conversation with an expat friend about the challenges of living abroad, I

 

brought up the issue of adjusting to time differences since I had been having trouble

 

sleeping for several nights. My friend tabled my concern by assuring me that I would

 

eventually acclimate and then turned the conversation to another problem. “Why does

 

Copyright © 2009 by Gerald W. Anthony nobody seem to stop at a red light? Why do cars drive on the sidewalk?” Both were very

 

good questions. In response, I asked my friend, “What are you going to do about it?”

 

Slightly shocked by my directness, my friend paused for a moment to consider and

 

answered, “I am going to obey the traffic laws and watch others change with me.”

 

The Application Stage

 

The Application Stage is the where individuals begin to apply their Estimate of

 

Probability of Success from the various Labels of Belonging to determine their actions.

 

Our actions are motivated by several factors, including beliefs about the effectiveness of

 

increased effort, the certainty of reward, and how much the reward is valued.4

 

Imagine a child preparing for a test in school. If she believes that how she does

 

on the test won’t be affected by how much she studies, she won’t be motivated to study.

 

She might believe that there is no way she could learn what she needs to know for the test,

 

or that she already knows everything she needs to know; either way, studying more

 

would be seem pointless. On the other hand, if she is confident that by studying harder

 

she will do better, then she will have some motivation to study. We’ll use the term

 

Confidence for the belief that increased effort will produce a better result.

 

To a young child, a test score may seem like meaningless number. If the personal

 

satisfaction of achievement is not enough to motivate the child, her parent or guardian

 

could offer a reward, for example, ice cream. When the child brings home a test with a

 

high mark, she will be met with a favorable response. “What a smart child! Let’s go get

 

the ice-cream I promised.” Actually, the child here receives both an intangible reward 4 I use the terms Confidence, Expectation, and Value as less technical substitutes for the variables Expectancy, Instrumentality, and Valence from Victor Vroom’s Expectancy Theory. Copyright © 2009 by Gerald W. Anthony

 

(praise and affirmation) and a tangible one (the treat). We’ll use the term Expectation

 

for the certainty of receiving a reward for a good performance.

 

Most children love ice cream, but there could be one who did not like it, or would

 

have preferred something else instead. To determine whether or how much a person will

 

be motivated by a particular reward, we must know the Value of the particular reward to

 

the particular person. For example, which would be more important to you, to be wealthy

 

or to have a loving family? Neither answer is right or wrong, and different people will

 

attach a different degree of importance to either outcome. One person might say, “I want

 

a loving family; that is very important to me. If I happen to get wealthy along the way,

 

that’s great.” Someone else might have different priorities. “I want to be wealthy. There

 

are no other alternatives! A loving family will come naturally.”

 

When Confidence, Expectation, and Value are all high, we would expect a person

 

to be highly motivated. However, if any of them is low, motivation will probably be low.

 

If you feel unmotivated, is it because you don’t feel that increased effort will produce a

 

better result, or because even if you achieve a good result, there’s no reward offered? Or

 

if there is a reward, is it something that you don’t care much about?

 

From the Interpretation Stage, an individual carries an Estimate of High or Low

 

Probability of Success. If the Estimate indicates Low Probability of Success, then in the

 

Application Stage, the individual will likely apply previous familiar actions because those

 

actions were successful in the past and of lack the motivation to try a new application.

 

Conversely if the Estimate indicates High Probability of Success, the individual will try

 

something new.55 See Exercise 4 in The Cultural Rehydration Workbook.
Copyright © 2009 by Gerald W. Anthony

 

If my friend who was troubled by the lax enforcement of traffic law estimated

 

from this situation a Low Probability of Success, the likely action would be something

 

familiar, like stop at the red traffic light and not try to communicate disagreement with

 

the individuals who continue. If the estimate was of High Probability of Success, then

 

something new or different might be chosen, such as going against the grain by blocking

 

passage until the traffic light was green. This entire process is shown below in Figure 2.3.

 

Probability of Success Action Taken Low Previous or Familiar High New Figure 2.3 The Application Stage

 

After application takes place, the individual then enters the Readjustment Stage.

 

Hydration Checkpoint

 

There are holidays intertwined with every culture. In my home culture there is a

 

time of year when we bundle up in snow suits. Our noses are red, and we walk outside

 

where a sheet of white snow covers the earth as if it were simply a painting. Patches of

 

ice here and there add color. Everywhere people carry bags filled with presents for others.

 

In the air are sounds of joy - people laughing, children singing, music playing. It is all so

 

wonderful. The smells of home cooking greet us at the door upon our return. Hot apples

 

with nutmeg, spiced pumpkin, the scent of roasting meat are all mixed together to entice

 

us to take another step. This is exactly how the holidays should be.

 

My first winter abroad was somewhat different. The ground was painted a dismal

 

dark brown with black patches of mud. Old Man Winter did not caress your face, but

 

Copyright © 2009 by Gerald W. Anthony slapped it with a force that left no room for questioning. Music was in the air, but it

 

might as well have been humming, for I could not recognize any words. No one laughed,

 

smiled, or even made eye contact. Is this how winter should be?

 

The Readjustment Stage

 

Adjustment to a new culture is required whenever our original beliefs or values

 

are in contrast to or conflict with those held in the new culture. We are used to seeing

 

things in a certain way, like a person wearing a pair of yellow glasses. Suddenly we are

 

confronted with the fact that everyone in the new culture wears a pair of blue glasses. It

 

is not really possible or desirable simply to throw away our old glasses and put on the

 

new ones, but we can add the new color to what we already have and arrive at a new

 

cultural tone – green.

 

During the Readjustment Stage old values are combined with new values to form

 

a different ‘cultural tone’ of acceptable values. I prefer the word 'tone,' because with a

 

tone, the new and the old are combined but the base is added upon, not erased. In the

 

readjustment of an individual, the individual’s base or previous experiences and values

 

also cannot be erased, but only added upon. A new culture does not erase the values of

 

your home culture, but simply adds to them to create a new 'tone.' For example, if you

 

are from a highly individualistic culture but are now living in a culture that is much more

 

group oriented, you will probably find that your individualism softens a bit, and you

 

begin to appreciate the group value of the new culture. Figure 2.4 depicts the

 

Readjustment Stage.

 

Copyright © 2009 by Gerald W. Anthony

 

Old +New=Different Values Values Cultural Tone

 

Figure 2.4 The Readjustment Stage

 

After a different cultural tone is created, the individual then meets new cultures or

 

new situations and the process commences again from the first stage, the Evaluation

 

Stage. For deeper processing, please refer to the accompanying workbook and complete

 

Exercise 5. After the cycle or process has been completed, it is common to ask project

 

feedback questions (Greer, 2007). Figures 2.5 and 2.6 show a summative visual diagram

 

of The Cultural Adaptation Process.

 

Copyright © 2009 by Gerald W. Anthony

 

The Evaluation Stage Resources

Personal Resources Social Resources Material Resources

Evaluate Environment

Flexible Environment Relatively Inflexible Environment

The Interpretation Stage

Class Placement Label of Belonging High or Low

Language Placement Label of Belonging High or Low

Estimate of Probability of Success
High or Low

Ability to Gather Information Label of Belonging High or Low

The Application Stage Probability of Success Action Taken Low Previous or Familiar NewHigh

 

The Readjustment Stage

 

Old +New=Different Values Values Cultural Tone

 

The Evaluation Stage (Cycle Begins Again)

 

Resources Evaluate

 

Environment

Personal Resources Social Resources Material Resources

Flexible Environment Inflexible Environment

 

Copyright © 2009 by Gerald W. Anthony Readjustment Evaluation

 

Application Interpretation

 

Figure 2.6 Cultural Adaptation Cycle

 

Copyright © 2009 by Gerald W. Anthony

 

Chapter 3: Pre-Departure

 

You have spent the last six months of your life preparing for your trip. You have

 

read books, started practicing saying basic numbers and phrases, and even gone shopping

 

for those last minute items like converters. It can be a nerve-wracking time. A voice in

 

the back of your mind grows with doubt and uncertainty: "Can I make it there? Will I

 

commit some faux pas, or do something embarrassing to tarnish my image?" These

 

questions go back and forth in your head as you prepare, but don't worry, they are quite

 

normal. Everyone has a mixture of fear and excitement when facing unknown situations:

 

it is up to you to decide how much will be fear and how much will be excitement.

 

In 2008, more than 50.5 million foreigners visited America. The top five

 

countries sending the most visitors to the United States were Canada, Mexico, The

 

United Kingdom, Japan, and Germany with 18.9 million, 6.2 million, 4.6 million, 3.2

 

million, and 1.8 million visitors respectively (Thomas, 2009). People visiting other

 

countries do so now not just for business or travel, but to live in the new country for long

 

periods of time. These people decide to become expatriates.

 

Why would an individual choose to be voluntarily absent from their home or

 

country? A survey conducted in Britain recently revealed the following as the top

 

reasons for becoming an expatriate. (Shelter Offshore, 2008):

• 57% found better weather made their life abroad more pleasant
• 56% felt they had a better quality of life when living abroad
• 53% enjoyed a higher standard of living
• 49% stated their new country was safer and enjoyed a lower crime rate
• 36% enjoyed a more relaxed and slower pace of life
• 30% had a higher income when living abroad
• 28% preferred the cuisine
• 27% cited the overall ‘expat lifestyle’ as a great reason for living overseas
• 26% enjoyed mixing with the local people and getting to know the local culture
• 19% reported finding a more social society since moving abroad Figure 3.1 Reasons for Becoming an Expatriate

Copyright © 2009 by Gerald W. Anthony All of the reasons stated above plus educational prospects lure individuals to live

 

in foreign countries. However, this chart does not explain the challenges that expats face

 

from living abroad. Expats encounter many situations that are both unique and unusual.

 

In order to project your overall likelihood of success overseas and to help you

 

better prepare for overseas living, there are twelve areas to consider. A test to measure

 

these areas was created from my doctoral research, and a mini-sample of the test is

 

available in Exercise 5a of The Cultural Rehydration Workbook. The twelve areas that

 

can influence your overseas stay can be divided into two categories, (1) Six Outward

 

Factors, dealing with adjustment to the environment, and (2) Six Inward Factors, dealing

 

with internal mental processes. Let’s start with the Outward Factors.

 

The first Outward Factor is Exposure. If you plan to be isolated or will be in an

 

environment that isolates you from the new culture there is a lower likelihood that you

 

can adjust. On the other hand, if you strive to immerse yourself in the new culture, or

 

you environment encourages or even forces this, then there is a higher likelihood of

 

successful adaptation. When planning your trip overseas, if possible try to find locations

 

where you are surrounded by the local culture to a level where you feel comfortable. The

 

higher the level of Exposure to the new culture (while avoiding overexposure), the easier

 

it will be to adapt.

 

The second Outward Factor is the planned Duration of the stay in the new

 

environment. When people leave for a new environment, they usually begin with

 

thinking that centers on “me”. However in order to stay in a country for a long time,

 

“we” must enter the picture. It is similar to a relationship. If "me" is the focus, the

 

relationship probably won't last very long. However, when the “me” turns to “we” there

 

Copyright © 2009 by Gerald W. Anthony is a higher likelihood of successful adaptation. “We” are willing to stay together longer

 

than a relationship centered on “me”. Of course, there is nothing wrong with wanting to

 

stay for a short period of time – just be realistic with yourself and others about your goals.

 

The third Outward Factor is Community, which refers to the number of people

 

from your home culture that will be with you in the new environment. Expats who come

 

to a new country with some sort of team or partnership have a higher likelihood of being

 

able to adjust compared to individuals who come alone. This being said, just as there are

 

pros and cons to being single versus being married, there are different challenges that

 

face people going alone versus as part of a team or with a partner.

 

The fourth Outward Factor is Openness. Expats can show a range of openness to

 

their new culture, and there are three levels of openness that correspond to three adaptive

 

styles. The first style is preservation, where expats maintain their original lifestyle and

 

values and reject those of the new culture. People with this style are not very open to

 

change. The second style is accommodation, where expats adopt some of the lifestyle

 

and values of the new culture, but maintain their original lifestyle and values for use

 

within their own community. The third classification is assimilation, where expats

 

abandon their original cultural values and lifestyle and completely adopt the values of the

 

culture (Chizzo, 2002). People with this style are said to “go native.” A higher level of

 

openness (the latter two styles) allows for more successful adaptation.

 

The fifth Outward Factor is Cultural Awareness. How much do you actually

 

know about the country you are going to visit or live in for some time? Exercise 5a in the

 

Cultural Rehydration Workbook has great questions to help you measure your cultural

 

awareness. One area that can allow deeper understanding is dining in foreign countries.

 

Copyright © 2009 by Gerald W. Anthony Sometimes ignorance is bliss (you may prefer not to know what animal or part of an

 

animal you are eating), however if you want to give yourself a chance for successful

 

adaptation, preparation is helpful.

 

The sixth and final Outward Factor is Language Awareness. There are three

 

levels of language: (1) Communicative, (2) Integrative, and (3) Expressive. These can

 

correspond to basic, intermediate, and advanced language skills. Expats who are aware

 

of and focus only on the first level are likely to experience frustration and even language

 

shock - the inability to communicate in an environment that leads to high amounts of

 

stress and anxiety. Adding the second level greatly helps to improve communication and

 

reduce language shock. The third level, while desirable for some, could be compared to

 

having a PhD – it is not necessary for most expats to function comfortably in a new

 

culture.

 

Language begins with a fundamental system of sounds and symbols. In English

 

we use the alphabet, in Asian languages they may use characters or script, and in other

 

languages they may use both. At the Communicative level, your goal is simply to convey

 

information – facts, ideas, concepts – so you begin by learning the sounds, symbols,

 

vocabulary, and grammar to produce sentences that accomplish transfer of information.

 

However, a sentence may be free of errors, yet still be misunderstood – communication

 

may fail – because aspects of the second level have been ignored.

 

Integrative communication takes into account emotions and the cultural

 

environment of a language. The difference between the Communicative and the

 

Integrative levels is like the difference between a resume and a personal statement. A

 

resume presents the bare facts about a person’s educational and work background, but

 

Copyright © 2009 by Gerald W. Anthony doesn’t reveal much about the personality of the person, which can come through in a

 

personal statement.

 

Expressive Communication, the third and highest level of language, is where new

 

language, like poetry, is created. It requires a deep understanding of a culture as well as a

 

lot of imagination and creativity. If you are motivated to develop your language skills to

 

this level, go for it! Exercise 5a in the Cultural Rehydration Workbook provides

 

examples of expressive communication sentences.

 

To review, the six Outward Factors are: Exposure, Duration, Community,

 

Openness, Cultural Awareness, and Language Awareness. The higher the value for each

 

of these, the better your chances for successful adaptation to a new culture.

 

Now let’s look at the six Inward Factors. The first Inward Factor is Motivation.

 

There are two kinds of people, Enthusiasts and Scientists, and each is motivated

 

differently. Enthusiasts are motivated to travel because of a desire for the new

 

environment to become a part of who they are. They say things like this: “Look at that

 

wonderful view - it is like a storybook.” “How exciting would it be to live there for a year

 

or two?” “I can’t wait to speak their language and taste all the wonderful new food.”

 

Enthusiasts admire the new environment for its own sake. Scientists, on the other hand,

 

go to the new environment to discover or learn something specific and most likely

 

practical. (Norris-Holt, 2001). Scientists may include people who are going overseas as

 

part of a step towards a larger goal. “My degree requires me to spend one semester

 

overseas studying the language for a certification.” “My company is setting up a new

 

branch overseas and I must go there to be the face of the company. This is a great career

 

opportunity.” Both Enthusiasts and Scientists have a great chance for successful

 

Copyright © 2009 by Gerald W. Anthony adaptation, but Enthusiasts tend to remain in the new environment longer than Scientists

 

because Scientists usually leave (voluntarily or involuntarily) when their objective has

 

been completed.

 

The second Inward Factor is Congruence. This refers to what is similar between

 

the two countries according to the individual. Food is a simple example. Some people

 

go to a foreign country expecting the food there to taste like it does in their home country.

 

When this expectation exists, every time they encounter new food they will make a

 

comparison: "Is this similar to what I am used to eating?" If so, they will probably

 

consider it a 'safe' food and consume it without much hesitation, but if not, they may

 

reject the dish without even trying it. I remember once having to eat live shrimp

 

swimming in alcohol. It was not very similar to what I was used to eating, and a lot of

 

thought went into the decision to accept this specialty dish. The more similarities, the

 

higher chance of successful adaptation, and vice versa.

 

The third Inward Factor is Preference. When deciding between two options, it is

 

natural to prefer one over the other. Who should be the leader, a man or a woman? Is

 

emotion or logic better for making decisions? Which makes for a better pet, a dog or a

 

cat? While there are no right or wrong answers to these questions, whichever way you

 

answer them, you have made a judgment that one is superior and the other inferior. With

 

this dynamic in mind, examine your feelings toward the new environment. Do you

 

consider the new environment superior or preferable in some way to your old one?

 

Holding a strong judgment that the new is inferior will make it harder to adapt, while

 

having no preference, or some degree of preference for the new will make it easier.

 

Copyright © 2009 by Gerald W. Anthony The fourth Inward Factor is Mental Agility. Can you put together a jigsaw

 

puzzle quickly? Are you good at solving mysteries or riddles? If, so you are probably

 

good at putting events or things in the proper order. This is vital in environments where

 

you can not rely on understanding from spoken or written words. If you have a high level

 

of mental agility, this will help you adapt faster. To improve in this area, you can do

 

mental exercises that work with sequencing in various forms.

 

The fifth Inward Factor is Attitude Control. This refers to the ability to shape a

 

positive attitude toward the new environment by having strong capabilities to control

 

ones own thinking. If an individual has a high ability to control their attitude, there is a

 

higher likelihood of smoother adaptation.

 

The sixth and last Inward Factor is Ego-permeability, or what I prefer to call

 

Let-go-my-ego.’6 Ego-permeability is the degree to which a person is willing to give up

 

self-presentation in order to learn new skills. In other words, it is the ability of a person

 

to make a fool of themselves in order to learn. People with high ‘Let-go-my-ego’

 

abilities, including humility and a sense of humor, will find it easier to adapt in new

 

environments.

 

Exercise 5a in the Cultural Rehydration Workbook gives a mini test to allow you

 

to see how you rate in these twelve pre-departure factors:7 (1) Exposure, (2) Duration, (3)

 

Community, (4) Openness, (5) Cultural Awareness, and (6) Language Awareness, (7)

 

Motivation, (8) Congruence, (9) Preference, (10) Mental Agility, (11) Attitude Control, and (12) Let-Go-My-Ego.

6 A variation on the Kellogg’s slogan, “Leggo my Eggo®” from television commercials that first aired in
1972 (Smith, 2007) in which one character tries unsuccessfully to snatch another’s freshly toasted frozen waffle (called an Eggo®).
7 The mini test covers the twelve factors, but not in the same order.

Copyright © 2009 by Gerald W. Anthony

When living overseas, it is important to remember: “Real knowledge is to know

 

the extent of one's ignorance.” (Paraphrased from Confucius, The Analects, 2.17)

 

Copyright © 2009 by Gerald W. Anthony

 

Chapter 4: In Country

 

You arrived several months ago and have enjoyed the differences between your

 

home country and your new environment. As time passes, a mysterious feeling inside

 

you begins to gnaw away at your optimism like an ant on a slice of bread. You tell

 

yourself it’s nothing, but the feeling just doesn’t go away. Then one day, you do

 

something you never thought you could do. You never imagined you would think or

 

even act in a manner so primal, so uncivilized, and so barbaric.

 

Hydration Checkpoint

 

One warm spring day I went grocery shopping with a friend. We were both

 

teachers. The street was bustling as usual when a group of students spotted us walking in

 

the street. They began whispering to one another and then stared at my friend and I with

 

a look of both curiosity and bewilderment. One student’s face flushed red. He took a

 

deep breath and spoke something into the wind. We couldn’t hear him but he seemed to

 

expect a response. My friend and I turned to one another with a familiar look: “Is that

 

student talking to me?” He took another deep breath and spoke again, producing only an

 

abrupt, heavily accented, and inappropriately loud, “Hello!” It was less of a greeting than

 

an assault. The snickering of the classmates developed into hysterical laughter as the

 

entire group walked away.

 

My friend and I shrugged our shoulders and continued talking and walking toward

 

the supermarket. After selecting some unknown but colorful items, we proceeded to the

 

checkout. “Great! There’s only one person ahead of us; this should be quick.” As we

 

stepped up to the counter, the cashier suddenly grabbed another shopper’s items instead

 

Copyright © 2009 by Gerald W. Anthony of ours. Was it because the other shopper was buying just a few things? We pushed our

 

items a little closer to the cashier, but someone else slipped their purchases into the

 

remaining empty space and the cashier grabbed them instead of ours. After this we

 

devised a new strategy – handing our items directly to the cashier. We finally checked

 

out after what had turned into quite an episode.

 

As we crossed the street away from the supermarket, a three-wheel pedicab

 

suddenly brushed my friend. The driver said a few words and continued cycling. Across

 

the street was a vendor selling sugar-dipped fruit. To get our attention, the vendor held

 

some up and pointed to it. I politely waved my hand indicating no. Reaching the other

 

side of the street, my friend and I parted to go home in opposite directions. As I was on

 

my way, I heard a loud, “Boom!” behind me. I turned back to see my friend yelling at

 

the candied fruit vendor and pushing him with obvious anger. The vendor was yelling

 

back, speaking very quickly while pointing to his vendor stall lying on its side with its

 

wheels slowly turning. Candies rolled down the street like a snail trying to crawl to

 

safety. There wasn’t enough sugar to keep the dipped fruit from rolling, but it formed a

 

trail as the pieces turned over and over down the street.

 

I ran over to see what was going on. I wrapped my arms around my friend to

 

separate the two individuals. “What happened?” My friend replied with a voice of

 

irritation. “He grabbed me! I told him I didn’t want his candy! I don’t want any candy!

 

I just want to go home!” I left the scene with English obscenities ringing in one ear and

 

what I imagine to be the same in the local language in the other.

 

Copyright © 2009 by Gerald W. Anthony What happened to my friend is a classic case of cultural dehydration. The

 

cumulative irritation of being shouted at by strangers or students, ignored by cashiers and

 

customers, and physically accosted by aggressive vendors finally led to a meltdown.

 

Most of us who stay in a new environment for longer periods of time will eventually

 

experience something similar. In order to help individuals find healthier ways of dealing

 

with the problem, I have developed a system of Cultural Rehydration.8 While many

 

wonderful and positive experiences await expats living in another country, the purpose of

 

this book is to help expats cope with the difficulties and challenges of overseas living or

 

cultural dehydration.

 

Cultural Rehydration Therapy

 

With every patient, the correct form of therapy will allow for recovery while an

 

incorrect form of therapy may cause the problem(s) to worsen. My research has led to

 

the development of an effective seven-step process called Cultural Rehydration Therapy.

 

The first step for an individual in a new environment is to find a friend. This does

 

not mean looking for a dating partner, but someone that you can trust and confide in,

 

preferably with a background similar to yours. You may want to consider aspects such as

 

age, social class, gender, ethnicity, and job type (BRS, 2009). Exercise 6 in the Cultural

 

Rehydration Workbook is a good tool to help you find an appropriate person or persons –

 

you may participate in more than one pairing. The most important thing is to have

 

someone available to you so that you never have to feel alone or isolated. Feelings of

 

isolation make it very difficult to adapt. This step is Pairing, the placing together of 8 I also developed a second method not discussed in this book for use by mental health professionals. Copyright © 2009 by Gerald W. Anthony

 

people with similar backgrounds to help provide a coping outlet and support in a new

 

environment. Cultivating supportive relationships is also a recommended strategy for

 

people experiencing depression (Helpguide.org, 2008).

 

The second step of Cultural Rehydration Therapy is called Boundary Setting,

 

defining personal and group parameters to establish boundaries and connections within a

 

new environment. Once you enter a new environment you will have many opportunities

 

to explore the various aspects on your environment. You must decide which

 

opportunities you want to explore further and which you do not. A common area where

 

there are often different boundaries is ‘night life.’ Some people may see it as a natural

 

part of the culture that is exciting, while others may view it only as a potential source of

 

trouble or danger. Boundary Setting is accomplished by first defining what is negotiable

 

and what is not, then comparing this to what would be acceptable in the home country

 

versus the new environment. If it is acceptable, a self-semi-binding contract is created. If

 

it is not acceptable, negotiables and non-negotiables are reanalyzed. This contract is then

 

communicated with others and boundaries are established, as well as appropriate

 

connections. This second stage is critical to the therapy because in cultural paralysis, a

 

link needs to be established between the home country and the foreign country. The

 

technique of Boundary Setting allows for the participants to understand that stepping

 

outside the boundaries is unacceptable. Without a proper establishment of boundaries,

 

individuals have a tendency to become uncontrollable, which makes any form of therapy

 

ineffective and frustrating. Exercise 7 in the Cultural Rehydration Workbook has a

 

Boundary Setting application to help you understand your boundaries and connections.

 

Copyright © 2009 by Gerald W. Anthony After Boundary Setting, stability needs to be established. This is the function of the next

 

two steps in the process.

 

The third step in Cultural Paralysis Therapy is Learning. It is important that the

 

individual begin to interact with others to learn how both formal and informal systems

 

work. One of the more important skills to master is seeing a system at work, but being

 

content with not knowing the answers to all your questions. Sometimes the answer to the

 

question, “Why?” is simply, “Why not?”

 

Hydration Checkpoint

 

I can remember one of my first student conferences as a teacher overseas. One

 

day after class, I returned to my office (right next door to my classroom) to gather my

 

belongings and go home. As I picked up my briefcase, I heard a faint knock on the thin

 

wooden door. After being invited in, a student hesitantly entered my office and stood in

 

front of my desk. Responding to my gesture, the student sat down and stared at the

 

concrete floor through a long awkward pause. After a few moments the student looked

 

up and asked me, “Professor Anthony, what would you do if you wanted to marry

 

someone that your parents forbid?” After my initial reaction to such an intense question,

 

I explained my answer from the perspective of a parent and then again from the

 

perspective of a typical student. The student seemed satisfied enough to at least maintain

 

eye contact with me and not the floor. “What do you think?” I asked. The student rose

 

from the chair, smiled, gave me a chuckle, and said, “It’s not about what I think.” The

 

student exited my office, leaving me with many questions.

 

Copyright © 2009 by Gerald W. Anthony As part of the Learning step, reading about cultural dynamics can be helpful. For

 

example, Indiana University’s Cultural Iceberg Theory expresses that like an iceberg,

 

most culture lies underneath the surface and cannot be seen (Indiana Department of

 

Education, n.d). Knowledge is power, but for expats, it also helps provide stability.

 

The fourth step of Cultural Rehydration Therapy is Norming,9 updating

 

expectations and defining roles within your pairing group(s). Within a given group there

 

are usually four roles. One person may fill more than role, but all four roles usually exist

 

in a group (Kline, 2003, p.27).10 The first role is Counselor, someone who is always

 

trying to get others to talk about their feelings and wants everyone to feel cared for.

 

Counselors have a high degree of empathy, and are often the ones who feel sad when you

 

are sad and happy when you are happy. They keep a group from holding too much inside.

 

The second role is Secretary, someone that always asks questions to make sure that

 

information is clear and accurate. Secretaries also make sure that group affairs are in

 

order, and help the group maintain control and stay on the same page (share a common

 

understanding). The third role is Teacher, someone who challenges the viewpoints of

 

others and causes the group to look at situations from different perspectives. This group

 

member may not be the most liked, but is necessary to keep the group growing instead of

 

always remaining within their comfort zone. The last role is Doctor, someone who

 

always analyzes what is going on and therefore seems a little distant from the group.

 

This distance serves to allow others to see there own current or past anxieties and

 

discomforts. The Doctor cures the group by allowing them to see what they fear.

 

Exercise 8 in the Cultural Rehydration Workbook will help you discover which role(s)

9 Compare with the third stage of Bruce Tuckman’s model of group dynamics: Forming-StormingNorming-Performing.
10 The labels for the four roles are my adaptation of Kline’s group roles and functions.
Copyright © 2009 by Gerald W. Anthony

you fill in your group(s). The stability from newly created expectations plus the defining

 

of group dynamics creates a foundation necessary to move to the next step.

 

The fifth step in Cultural Rehydration Therapy is Challenging, a two-part process

 

that allows individuals to both participate and explore. First, discuss the current culture.

 

Initially this should be done individually to form opinions about topics, and then in a

 

group setting where opinions can be presented and other viewpoints can also be heard.

 

The more discussion, the more the group and especially the Teachercan identify areas to

 

challenge. Second, challenge cultural thoughts and explanations of the group. By

 

challenging the thinking process of individuals, you begin the actual rehabilitation

 

process. If no challenges are expressed, the group may actually be in denial about what is

 

actually occurring in their new environment and in themselves. Exercise 10 in The

 

Cultural Rehydration workbook gives applications and explanations on how to issue

 

challenges to yourself and other group members.

 

Steps three to five in the Cultural Rehydration Therapy Process – Learning,

 

Norming, and Challenging – may need to be repeated until you feel a return of self

 

confidence and a change in your way of thinking. A good gauge is to take the Pre

 

Boarding Test again and compare your original results. You should notice a change in

 

thinking, feeling, and overall attitude. Your score should be higher, but if not, it should

 

not be more than 20% lower than your original score. If it is, this shows you are

 

culturally dehydrated. If your score is more than 20% above your original score, you are

 

culturally well hydrated and could even consider helping others who are less so. Don't

 

give up on yourself. Tell your pairing group(s) that you would like their help at this

 

challenging time in your life. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of

 

Copyright © 2009 by Gerald W. Anthony strength. Once patterns of change occur in your thinking, feelings, and overall attitude,

 

you should progress to the next step.

 

The sixth step of Cultural Paralysis Therapy is Processing. Individuals should

 

reexamine their experiences in the country and describe possibilities for the future.

 

Answering a simple set of reflection questions can cause appreciation for a journey in a

 

new environment. To begin describing the future, one successful method is to think of an

 

individual whom you feel adjusted to the new environment rather well and interview the

 

person to discover behaviors you could copy. This method is Imitation. It does not

 

mean becoming a clone of someone else, but trying to incorporate some of their healthy

 

patterns into your lifestyle. A second method to try to reflect and prepare for their future

 

is to set a goal for how you will react differently in situations where you are not satisfied

 

with your current response. For example, when confronted with strangers yelling

 

“Hello!” and then walking away laughing, instead of allowing this to irritate me, I trained

 

myself (easier said than done) to think that the person was not doing it with the purpose

 

of annoying me, but was simply eager to take advantage of a rare opportunity to practice

 

language skills. I also decided to answer in the local language rather than English, which

 

gave me the rare opportunity to practice my language skills. I call this method Odd
Even
; it is an easy way to remember that there are other ways of handling situations.

 

Exercises 12a and 12b in the Cultural Rehydration Workbook will help you apply

 

Processing techniques. It is helpful to remember the simple fact that you won’t cure most

 

cultural discomforts by changing the culture but by changing the way you think about and

 

understand the culture.

 

Copyright © 2009 by Gerald W. Anthony The seventh and final step of Cultural Paralysis Therapy is Linking. Individuals

 

are encouraged to remain in contact with other group members after the group’s time in

 

the new environment ends. Cultural dehydration is not a one-time event but requires a

 

life-long process of rehydration. Linking begins with preparing your pairing group(s) for

 

the conclusion of their time in the new environment. The pairing group(s) should discuss

 

the feelings that come from recognizing this reality. Members are then given the option

 

of ‘linking’ with other group members.

 

Linking takes place when an individual ask another person or group to help with a

 

specific behavior in the future, describing (1) a newly suggested behavior, (2) the time

 

when this will be used or applied, and (3) a method for starting the interaction to use the

 

behavior. (Kline, 2003, p. 200). An example of a link created between Sue and Joe at a

 

farewell dinner, went as follows:

 

Sue: Joe, I seem to have issues with being unable to achieve complete

 

independence. Can you help me with that since we are neighbors?

 

Joe: Sure.

 

Gerald: Sue, what exactly do you want Joe to do? You should tell him.

 

Sue: Whenever I isolate myself or want to have things done the way my culture

 

does them, please just ask me two questions: (1) Where are we now? and

 

(2) Why did you come here?

 

In this sample link between Sue and Joe, an experimental behavior is suggested (asking

 

two questions), specific circumstances for the behavior are stated (whenever Sue isolates

 

herself or wants things to done the as they would be her home country), and an

 

interaction to promote the behavior (when Joe sees Sue) exists. Linking is necessary in

 

Copyright © 2009 by Gerald W. Anthony that it keeps group members in contact with ‘healers’ and sustains accountability in

 

rehydration. Exercise 13 provides help with this final step.

 

To summarize, the seven steps of the Cultural Rehydration Process are: Pairing,

 

Boundary Setting, Learning, Norming, Challenging, Processing, and Linking. By

 

following this process, you will keep up your ‘fluids’ and stay culturally hydrated.

 

Copyright © 2009 by Gerald W. Anthony

 

Chapter 5: Returning Home

 

Your mini-adventure or journey has concluded. You left many new friends

 

behind, and have fond memories of the foreign environment you eventually adapted to.

 

Your current environment presents similar challenges, but you are completely unaware of

 

it, because this new environment is the place you call ‘home.’

 

Hydration Checkpoint

 

Returning home for a short visit, I just knew what I needed to rejuvenate myself.

 

I had contacted a few friends who promised to visit me while I was home. My family

 

had agreed to pick me up at the airport. When I saw them I was so excited. However,

 

they looked different: age showed in that brief moment before we exchanged hugs. I

 

never mentioned it, but they didn’t match the picture of my family I held in my mind. On

 

the car ride home, there were a few questions asking about my time overseas, but

 

eventually conversation shifted to domestic current events. Many of the names and

 

incidents were completely unknown to me. I nodded in a familiar habit that I had

 

developed overseas when I pretended to understand what natives were saying. As we

 

continued driving I noticed many of the roads, signs, stores and family shops had all

 

changed. I thought to myself, “Where am I?”

 

I finally arrived home and everyone wanted to visit me or have me visit them. It

 

became a full-time job trying to keep all the appointments straight. That first night I

 

wanted to stay up to watch the nightly news but fell asleep at 5pm. I tried to fight it, but

 

my body couldn’t stay awake. The country I had left was twelve hours ahead of my

 

Copyright © 2009 by Gerald W. Anthony home time zone. This pattern of sleeping during the day continued for around two weeks,

 

making many of the visits with friends less refreshing and more like a chore.

 

There were also other changes happening inside of me. My family took me to my

 

favorite restaurant for lunch (they understood that I would be too tired for dinner). At the

 

restaurant I ordered a plate of buttermilk pancakes with fruit topping, two slices of butter,

 

and maple syrup. I devoured the stack of pancakes without saying too many words to my

 

family. As I reclined in the chair with my full stomach, I expressed my satisfaction with

 

the meal. “That sure was good! They don’t make food like that in my old environment!”

 

As I went home, I had the feeling not of indigestion, but violent nausea. Every time I ate

 

some ‘home-cookin’ I spent hours afterwards in the bathroom.

 

I slowly became used to another change. Out in public, I experienced mental

 

pauses during which I could not understand my mother tongue. This was very scary for

 

me. Besides this, my normal speaking speed slowed down. It seemed like I was a

 

foreigner. I went to visit friends to find relief.

 

At one friend’s home, the conversation was like talking to a relative that I knew

 

from childhood but had nothing in common with anymore. We knew each other’s names,

 

but no longer who we really were. I left that house and many others overhearing the

 

words, “He’s changed.” I was now a lost stranger in my ‘home.’

 

Coming home is a welcome change. It can be a chance to refresh yourself from

 

the stresses of new and unfamiliar environments. However, you must understand one

 

thing: in our minds we keep pictures and pictures always stand still. There is a picture of

 

home, the last time we were there. It may be a few months or a few years ago. Whatever

 

Copyright © 2009 by Gerald W. Anthony the picture looks like, we have an expectation that when we return, our world will

 

perfectly match it. When our world differs from the picture, we are left with an array of

 

different feelings, especially confusion. This can lead to cultural dehydration.

 

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that because you are back in familiar territory,

 

you will adjust immediately. It is common to take up to one year to really adjust to your

 

new environment or your home country. The language has changed (slang), new music

 

has come out, and many local events have occurred that didn’t make international news.

 

Your diet will most likely be different, fashion will be different, and most of all you are

 

different. Do you remember in our Pre-Departure exercises we were left with a new tone?

 

Now you are looking at your home country through the new tone, not the old original one.

 

Let’s begin with the first basic physical challenge you will face upon returning

 

home – adapting to the time difference. Each person’s body has an internal clock that

 

creates a cycle of slightly over twenty-four hours. When you change time zones, this

 

internal clock must readjust. While your body is adjusting you may begin to notice

 

certain problems such as not being able to think clearly, difficulty falling asleep or

 

maintaining sleep, early morning awakening, and headaches or stomachaches. How long

 

this discomfort lasts will depend on how many hours’ difference there is between your

 

home time zone and your old environment. The good news however is that as soon as

 

you arrive in your new environment, your body starts to adjust naturally.

 

Your body and mind will try to maintain the same number of hours of usual sleep,

 

but slowly start shifting to an earlier or later time depending on the direction of time zone

 

shift. If you travel eastward, your new environment will demand that you sleep earlier

 

than in your old environment. From your mind and body’s point of view, this means you

 

Copyright © 2009 by Gerald W. Anthony will need to go to bed earlier. You will probably notice difficulty going to sleep at

 

‘normal’ hours and will wake up later than usual. If you travel westward, your

 

environment will demand that you sleep later than your old environment. This time your

 

mind and body will want to go to bed later. You will wake up earlier than ‘normal hours’

 

and find yourself sleeping earlier than the locals (Friedman, 2003). Exercise 14 in the

 

Cultural Rehydration Workbook will help you figure out roughly how long this time zone

 

hydration process should last. If you have a choice, travel westward because recovery

 

time is faster. (This can be remembered by the acronym WISE-TL = West Is Sooner;

 

East –Tired Longer.)

 

The second challenge you will probably face after returning home is food. If you

 

consume more meat, bread, and sugar than you did in your old environment, you will

 

probably experience slight stomach discomfort and weight gain after a few weeks. This

 

often happens to women moving to new environments because of their tendency to eat

 

more comfort foods. It also usually happens to men moving from an Asian or

 

Mediterranean diet to a western American or European diet. (For dietary purposes, it

 

should be noted that Eastern Europe, Africa, and the Middle East are all classified under

 

a Mediterranean diet.) Conversely, if you consume less meat, bread, and sugar, you may

 

still experience slight stomach discomfort, but you will lose weight after a few weeks.

 

This usually happens to men moving from American or European diets to Asian or

 

Mediterranean diets and to women who move to lesser-developed areas where snacks are

 

not readily available. If your diet is South American or Australian, weight gain or loss

 

can be predicted according to the relative increase or decrease in meat, bread, and sugar.

 

Copyright © 2009 by Gerald W. Anthony Exercise 15 in the Cultural Rehydration Workbook will help you deal with food cultural

 

dehydration.

 

Once you come home you will probably be concerned with meeting the basic

 

needs of food, shelter, and clothing, all of which require money. You may be able to stay

 

with family and friends for a while, but eventually you will need a job. The purpose of a

 

job is not only financial but to bring meaning to your life. Do you expect it to be easy to

 

find a job after living overseas? Australian consultant Susie Moore, prompted by

 

employers’ comparison between foreign experience and local expertise, says, “If you've

 

been offshore all the time, it's not always easy to translate those skills back domestically”

 

(Yeates, 2009). Give yourself time and start to build up your old network. Friends from

 

overseas may also be able to open a few doors for you. The reflection questions in the

 

Cultural Rehydration Workbook, Exercise 16 will help with work rehydration.

 

After your basic needs have been addressed, you must get accustomed to the pace

 

of life in your home country. This may or may not be attractive to you. The survey in

 

Chapter Three stated that 56% of expats enjoy a better lifestyle than they would in their

 

home country (Shelter Offshore, 2008). You may also have to adjust to a simpler

 

lifestyle. This takes time.

 

Finally as you adjust back to the home life you may discover a feeling that you

 

don’t quite belong. You no longer belong in your old environment, but you also don’t

 

quite fit in your ‘home’ any more. This is a heavy feeling to process in your heart. Focus

 

on your current uniqueness and how it can help yourself and others. I always tell others

 

“Be the best ‘you’ that you can be, because no one can be a better ‘you’ than you. Others

 

will always be better at being someone else.”

 

Copyright © 2009 by Gerald W. Anthony One reflection tool that is useful one month after you return home is a ‘hydration

 

trail’ – a timeline that uses symbols for significant events in a certain time frame. After

 

creating a hydration trail, it is beneficial to find a new pairing partner you can share it

 

with. This activity is in the Cultural Rehydration Workbook, Exercise 17.

 

As you get back into the flow of things you will probably see that you need to

 

rehydrate yourself all over again. In life hydration is a daily process; staying culturally

 

hydrated is the same.

 

Welcome home, good luck to you, and stay hydrated.

 

The Cultural Rehydration Workbook is available at www.fhandlove.org.cn/tests.html .

 

If you wish to contact Dr. Anthony, you may contact him at:

 

health@fhandlove.org

 

Or

Dr. Gerald W. Anthony
C/O The Faith Hope and Love Foundation P.O. Box 2603
Manassas, Virginia 20108
United States

Copyright © 2009 by Gerald W. Anthony

 

List of Figures

Figure Page Figure 2.1 The Evaluation Stage 10
Figure 2.2 The Interpretation Stage 12
Figure 2.3 The Application Stage 15
Figure 2.4 The Readjustment Stage 16
Figure 2.5 The Cultural Adaptation Process 18
Figure 2.6 Cultural Adaptation Cycle 19
Figure 3.1 Reasons for Becoming an Expatriate 20

Copyright © 2009 by Gerald W. Anthony

 

Works Cited

Anthony, Gerald. (2007). Male Pride. Peace From A Distance Newsletter (December): 1. __________. (2009). The Cultural Adjustment Cycle. USA: Columbus University. Batt, Richard D., Ian D. Watson, and Partricia E. Watson. (1980). Volumes for Adult

Males and Females Estimated From Simple Anthropometrics Measurements. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 1980 (January): 27-39.

BRS. (2009). “Market Segmentation,” in BRS: Center for Career Planning. Internet. http://www.businessplans.org/Segment.html .
Chizzo, Jacob. (June 30, 2002). Acculturation and Language Acquisition: A Look at Schumann’s Acculturation Model. Virginia: Islamic Saudi Academy.
Cody, David. (2002). “Social Class.” The Victorian Web: Hartwick College. http://www.victorianweb.org/history/Class.html.
Friedman, Norman R. (2003). Time Traveler. “How to Adjust Quickly to New Time Zones,” in The Bridge Online. Internet.
http://www.uchsc.edu/news/bridge/2003/October/timetravel.html .Gadgets
Greer, Michael. (2007). “Project ‘Post Mortem’ Review Questions,” in Michael Greer’s Project Management Home Page. Internet.
http://www.michaelgreer.com/postmortem.htm .
Helpguide.org. (2008). “Depression,” in The Helpguide.org. Internet.
http://www.helpguide.org/mental/depression_tips.htm.
Indiana Department of Education. (n.d.). Internet Search, “Iceberg Theory.” Internet: http://www.doe.in.gov/lmmp/pdf/iceburgofculture.pdf.
Kline, William B. (2003). Interactive Group Counseling and Therapy. Ohio: Merrill Prentice Hall.
Medicine.net. (2009). “Dehydration,” in Medicine.net. Internet.
http://www.medicinenet.com/dehydration/article.htm.
Norris-Holt, Jacqueline. (2001). The Internet TESL Journal, Vol. VII, No. 6. Motivation as a Contributing Factor in Second Language Acquisition. Internet. http://iteslj.org/Articles/Norris-Motivation.html.
Schumann, John H. (n.d.). “Second Language Acquisition: The Pidginization Hypothesis.” Los Angeles: University of California.
Shelter Offshore; Expat Money Matters. (November 14, 2008). “Living Abroad as an Expatriate: The Best and Worst Aspects.” Internet.
http://www.shelteroffshore.com/index.php/living/more/living-abroad-expatriatebest-and-worst-aspects-10166.
Thomas, Frank. (April 13, 2009). USA Today. U.S. Saw Record Number of Visitors in 2008. http://www.usatoday.com/travel/2009-04-12-visitors_N.htm.
Yeates, Clancy. (2009). One in Five Australian Expats Earns More Than $320,000 A Year. The Sydney Morning Herald. 19 July: Business Day.

Copyright © 2009 by Gerald W. Anthony

 

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