When you first move to another country as an expatriate or an immigrant, you start your international journey by being “ethnocentric”. What we mean by that is that until now, you only have had experience with people from your own culture and with colleagues or friends from other cultures, so you tend to perceive things according to your own cultural values and beliefs.
Once you reach your new destination, you start discovering that the culture in which you are now is different, and you go through many different stages, there are 7 stages.
The first stage is ethnocentricity, so we see things according to our own values and beliefs, but we are in a new country and we start recognizing that there are differences. This is the second stage we go through, awareness that things are different in our new destination and that the culture we now live in has different values.
The third stage leads us to understanding, we have now spent a few months in our new country and have surrounded ourselves with locals and have discovered many things about how to communicate with them and about the local culture, so we are in the understanding phase.
Sometimes you may experience that some of the cultural values of your host country do not meet yours, this is perfectly normal, it is a period of adaptation and understanding and this phase is called acceptance that there are differences between both cultures.
Once you accept the differences between your culture and your host culture you enter the appreciation phase. This phase is about recognizing that certain aspects of the new culture are appealing to you. For example, I have had clients that told me that after 6 months in the UK, they really appreciated the order and the fact that people were not very loud and that when they got back to their home Country it annoyed them. So there are many things that one can appreciate from another culture.
The next stage is the selective adoptation, so after a while you will take some of the new cultural values into your own values, it could be little things such as more order or Organisation in your life, a collectivistic approach to your colleagues and the people around (caring about each other and watching out for each other). I like to think that everywhere we go we take something away with us, we always keep a little piece of the country we have lived in with us.
And the last stage of course is multiculturation, where you feel that your values are a mix of your own culture and the cultures you have lived in and you feel like you belong to the world, and would be confortable anywhere in the world.