Almost everyone experiences culture shock to some degree. It can be frustrating and confusing in the beginning, but we learn to adapt to the situation. If you visit another country for a length of time, no matter how much you love the place you're visiting - it is going to hit you that it is just too weird around you. Perhaps you wonder, why are people nice to you or no one has an ounce of friendliness? Why is it eerily quiet like you're in the cemetery or why is everyone such party-poopers? And the directions make no sense.
Maybe your work and family life suffered because of the mental and physical effects of culture shock. And you are just overall unhappy. 'Culture shock' can be simply defined as an experience that a person confronts once he moves to a new cultural environment.
Here are tips to overcome feelings of culture shock:
1. Avoid feeling homesick.
Avoid think about the people and environment at home. Instead, mingle more with the people around you.
2. Learn about the other culture.
You can learn by yourself by doing research on the lifestyle patterns of the people and through global mobility programmes such as intercultural training. By self-education, we learn the obvious cultural differences: appearance, accent, manners, and habits. Look for blogs, articles and videos about the place. Note important points. Talk with someone who is a local or has traveled where you are.
For example, in East Asian countries, bowing your head a little while greeting others is an act of respect.
The differences that cause culture shock that are more often overlooked are: attitudes, beliefs, values, and perceptions.
3. Be patient with the bureaucracy.
Residency and immigration issues will spring up when you travel abroad. Reacting with frustration does not help. Come to terms with the cumbersome bureaucracy and just enjoy the bigger part your trip and have a good time.
Talk with other people who are on the same both as you or experiencing the exact same thing. You can talk to your friends on the program or your local coordinator. Shared experience can bring about emphathy between you and other people. Make an effort, hand-in-hand, to be positive.
5. Be a light.
Think positive, have a sense of humor, and still manage to be nice when dealing with problems with interacting with locals.
6. Build a sanctuary in your place.
Leave room in your suitcase for a few personal items to leave a touch of yourself in the place you're staying at. According to Jared, an American (and sci-fi fan) living in Britain, "I take my action figures with me. When I get to a new place I sit them on the nightstand or a windowsill. Then it's home." You'll bring home along with you.
7. Stay in touch with family and friends.
You don't have to cut off all contact with everyone at home. You will need when things get extremely difficult for you.
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