Adapt to a new culture

Common stages of adapting to culture shock

Though each person is different and will have a unique experience settling in to their new home, many people will go through four common stages of adapting to life in a new culture, often referred to as “culture shock.”

Contact an immigrant-serving organization to find out what resources are available in your community to help you cope with culture shock.

Stage 1: Happiness and fascination.

Just before or shortly after arriving in Canada you may:

  • Have high hopes and expect great things
  • Feel this is a very exciting time
  • Feel everything is new and interesting
  • Feel confident and that you can easily cope with problems and stress
  • Tend to focus on what is similar between Canada and the culture and country you come from

Stage 2: Disappointment, confusing feelings, frustration and irritation.

During the first six months you may:

  • Feel happy about the challenges you have overcome
  • Feel frustrated, confused and disappointed
  • Feel very positive one day and very negative the next
  • Focus on the differences between yourself and Canadians
  • Miss your family and feel no connection to Canada
  • Have difficulty going to work or looking for work
  • Feel loneliness for your country and loved ones
  • Feel guilty about leaving family members behind

Stage 3: Gradual adjustment or recovery.

During this stage of adjustment you may:

  • Feel more in control of your life as you gain a better understanding of Canada
  • Feel more confident in your language skills
  • Gradually get involved in the community
  • Have a better understanding of how to adapt to life in Canada
  • Have a better sense of what you need to do to get what you want in Canada

Stage 4: Acceptance and adjustment.

During this stage of adjustment you will likely:

  • Feel more comfortable in Canada
  • Have made some friends and be more involved in your new community
  • Understand better how things are done in Canada
  • Be studying, planning to return to school or working at better jobs
  • Generally feel content about having come to Canada

Immigrant services in your area

Our interactive map will help you to search for immigrant services in your area.

Living in Canada video

  • This video offers information about:

    • Meeting people and making friends in Canada
    • Getting used to your new home
    • Children growing up in Canada

    To watch the video, select your language and the topic “Living”.

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