The ILP people told us about four phases that we'll probably go through while we're there. I've sort of described them below (with some help from my notes and Wikipedia):
Four Phases of Culture Shock
- The Honeymoon Phase - During the first few weeks, most people are fascinated by the new culture. They associate with nationals who speak their language, and who are polite to the foreigners. This period is full of observations and new discoveries.
- The Negotiation Phase - After a while, culture differences between the old and new culture become apparent and may create anxiety, frustration and anger.
- The Adjustment Phase - After a while longer, you get used to the new culture and routines are developed. You know what to expect in most situations, and you can have a good attitude towards accepting the culture.
- The Mastery Phase- The culture feels almost like home, you are able to participate fully and comfortably within the culture. It's sad that you will ever have to leave.
Here's a summary of ways I can prepare and prevent "Culture-shock" when I finally make it to the Ukraine:
Before I go - build my appreciation of the culture.
- Learn more about the Ukrainian culture.
- Learn about the language and customs of the Ukraine.
- Find out about upcoming holidays and learn all I can about them.
- Get to know my host-family and the native people.
- Find the things that I love about the country.
- Spend time outside doing things.
- Talk with other Americans in the Ukraine that are going through the same things as me.