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When people leave their country to go to live or study in a new country, it is common for them to undergo a process of adaption to the new country and its culture. Many researchers call this process ‘acculturation’. The American researcher, Robin Scarcella, has outlined a four-stage theory of acculturation (1998), and her article provides the main theoretical background to this essay. For this main an immigrant person to New Zealand was interviewed, and his experience is discussed throughout this essay. This essay will discuss the experience of the interviewee in the light of the theory of acculturation, with final comments on the importance of understanding the process of acculturation.
My interviewee was a young man aged about 20~25 years old. He came from Japan, and has been in New Zealand for 3 years. He came to New Zealand to find a job. To protect the interviewee’s anonymity, I will call him Jack. In his home country ‘Jack’ was unhappy, because he could not find a job. He said Japan was a small country where there are too many people and it was difficult to find a high income work. He thought New Zealand was a nice place to find the job he want because the population on New Zealand was not very high. In New Zealand he hopes to get a high paid jobs.
According to Winkelman (1994), in the first stage of life in the new country, immigrant people generally feel some extra happiness “mixed with the excitement of being into the new country”. This is called the “honeymoon stage” (1994. p123). Winkelman calls this stages tourist “the honeymoon is characterized by interest, excitement, euphoria, sleeplessness, positive expectations, and idealizations about the new culture” (1994. p123). Jack reported that when he first time arrived in the New Zealand, he felt a lot of excitement. For example a person visited a new people and new culture, travel to new places. Jack said that he was very happy with visited a new things.
The second stage in the process of acculturation outlined by Scarcella is called culture shock. In this stage, people started felt unhappy some can be homesick, Scarcella said “The term culture shock refers to the point at which frustration peaks, and language minority students begin to feel fearful” (1998, p. 107). Winkelman called this part “crises” and “The crises may emerge immediately upon arrival or be delayed but generally emerges within a few weeks to a month” (1994, p. 123). Jack told me that after stayed on New Zealand over a few weeks. He started felt homesick, he cannot understand what is New Zealander said and missing him families. He felt lonely and he want to make some new friend. But he could not make any friends on first a few weeks on New Zealand, because he can not have normal conversation with others.
Scarcella refers to the third stage of acculturation as recovery. In this stage people will started to learn adjust to the new culture. Winkelman said “There are many different adaptation options, especially given diverse individual characteristics and goals” (1994, p. 124). Jack reported that after some months in New Zealand he still felt little homesick and unhappy but he knew is time to change the mood. If keep a bad mood a long time it will destroy his life. For this reason, he started try to adjust to new culture.
The final stage of the acculturation process outlined by Scarcella is called complete acculturation. In this stage, people typically experience ‘honey moon’ ‘cultural shock’ ‘recovery’ these third part. According to Scarcella “Under normal circumstances, people who become acculturated pass through all the stages at varying rates, though they do not progress smoothly from one stage to the next and may regress to previous stages”(1998, p. 107). The theory from Winkelman showed that “This stage is to achieved as one develops stable adaptation in being successful at resolving problems and managing the new culture” (1994, p. 124). Jack said that now he has been in New Zealand for 3 years life in New Zealand is became easier. When he felt lonely or homesick he will go to travel with him friends or use Skype to ring his families, he said is good to have a nice holiday with friends, they can help you a lots things on your life.
The interviewee’s experience partly confirms the theory of acculturation outlined by Scarcella. It can be seen that Jack showed evidence of
experienced honey moon, culture shock and adaptation and complete acculturation. Jack did experience culture shock was interested of me, because when I first time visited Jack was on this time. Now Jack already get a nice job which were high salaries, he told me he hopes he can stay in New Zealand forever because New Zealand is the nice place to live.
This essay discuss about four main part of acculturation, first part is called honey moon, this part which is the most interested and excited. Second part called culture shock which is the negative part, people started felt unhappy and homesick. Third part called adjustment people started to learn to adaptation life in the new country. The final part is called resolution people became to normal, this part do not have many excitement or anxiety.
In conclusion what I knew was that the theory of acculturation are very important to a lot of people such as refugee and international students. These thing can help people avoid culture shock and make life easier. I suggest that people which is join in other country should know some theory of acculturation.
Scarcella, R, (1998). Patterns of acculturation. In A. Raimes (Ed) Exploring through Writing: A process approach to ESL composition (pp. 106-109). Cambridge England: Cambridge University Press.
Winkelman, M. (1994). Cultural Shock and Adaptation. Journal Of Counseling ＆ Development, 73(2), 121-126.