The 4 Stages of Cross Cultural Adjustment - Integration - 2BlueEyes blog

The 4 Stages of Cross Cultural Adjustment, Part 4: Integration

This is the last part of my four part series on the cycle of cross cultural adjustment. Make sure to catch up on part ONEpart TWO, and part THREE! Today’s post is about integration.


The Cycle of Cross Cultural Adjustment - graphic - 2BlueEyes blog

Integration

You struggled through the ups and downs of the cross cultural adjustment cycle and now you can pat yourself on the back because you made it through! Life has returned to normal. It is a “new” normal and the important thing is you are comfortable with it. Routines have been established. Friends have been made. Local customs have been experienced and overcome. Heck, you might have become fluent in the local language. All of these things are key factors indicating that you have integrated!

My Experience

My proudest integration moment is also the briefest and smallest experience I had while living in Mongolia. Let me give you some background on a Mongolian custom: if you trip over someone’s foot or knock it under a table you are expected to offer your right hand quickly shake their hand as a way of saying “sorry”. The gesture is so natural that for most Mongolians they do not think twice about it. The situation might happen with a friend, co-worker, or out in public but the custom is always the same: a quick handshake to acknowledge the (minor) offense and then the two of you carry on.

One day, I was shopping in the grocery store. There were lots of people in the aisles making it difficult to get by. At one point I tried to squeeze my way through some people and as I got past them I accidentally knocked into a woman’s foot. In a split second I stuck my right hand out behind me searching for her hand to shake. And she shook it!!!  We locked eyes after that hand shake and we both looked shocked for very different reasons. Me, because without thinking I had taken part in an everyday Mongolian custom. Her, because a blonde hair, blue-eyed foreigner had taken part in an everyday Mongolian custom. I went home with a spring in my step that day.


Reflections

The integration stage is rewarding….once you get through the first three stages. Thank you for reading my four part series on the cycle of cross cultural adjustment. Writing these posts was an insightful way for me to think about the different places I’ve lived.

Integration - 2BlueEyes blog

Have you survived culture shock and adjusted to a new culture? Did you realize the moment things started to look up for you?

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8 thoughts on “The 4 Stages of Cross Cultural Adjustment, Part 4: Integration

  1. lovejennyxo says:

    Where are you from originally might I ask? How incredible that you got to live in Mongolia and experience that life and culture! I’m always fascinated when people I know tell me they’ve lived in other countries and learned their languages and got acclimated to that culture, the stories are unbelievable and so inspiring, I personally have not experienced any major cultural shocks (I haven’t really traveled outside the US- yet, other than Canada) but I mean, I do notice from state to state the wide variety of people, actions, contributions, and personalities that you come across. Like my simple example would be from Boston, where I’m from people here are just flat out busy, they don’t care to stop and talk, their rude, and will push and shove to get to where they need to be etc but then when I traveled to DC and Florida for example, EVERYONE I met and crossed paths with were so unusually sweet, nice, friendly and wanted to stop and chat a little. It’s crazy how a little distance changes the way people act and speak to others. I can only imagine what it would be like in another country, but thats surely an experience I’d love to encounter!

    xo, JJ

    Liked by 2 people

    • Halee Pagel says:

      I’m from California! And while culture shock is more obvious and extreme in other countries with different languages, it is within the US for the exact examples you shared. And it’s not just a regional thing. I’ve changed jobs and been shocked at the different work cultures. Interesting stuff!

      Like

      • Jen Seriously says:

        So true – I’ve been in Colorado for over eight years now but go back to the east coast about once a year to visit family. Aside from the more obvious landscape and architecture differences, it’s really hard for me to be there because people just seem so rushed and tense and high-strung all the time. Very un-Coloradoan!

        Liked by 1 person

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