Culture shock happens to even the most seasoned travellers no matter how many times you’ve gone abroad, returned home and left again. Frustration, anxiety, surprise, exhaustion… you’ve caught the inevitable now, how to deal with it?
We don’t need to get into the gritty psychological details of culture show, why and how it happens. Anyone who has spend time away from home for an extended part of time inevitably experiences some degree of shock, both leaving and returning home. It’s part of any round-the-world backpacking trip, any study abroad experience or work exchange. Dealing with the stress of travel and jet-lag is enough you’d think, now let’s add culture shock to the mix!
How to deal with culture shock
- Open your mind. Accepting your new culture is a big step in feeling at home in it. Constantly comparing between home and abroad doesn’t help. People do different things because there’s more than one way to finish the proverbial “marathon”. Instead of focusing on the differences as being good or bad, celebrate diversity!
- Try something new. Thing goes hand in hand with being open-minded. Embrace the differences and try new foods, local bars, a different schedule and language. Join a class, meet new people and dive into the exciting cultures around you.
- Get a hobby. Go where the locals go and sign up for a class that interests you whether its a weekly yoga meeting in a city park, Critical Mass, language exchanges for foreigners, open-mic or something else. Whatever activity you choose it will definitely open your social circle and boost your confidence that you’re a part of your new city.
- Keep in touch with home. Simple, right? Abroad or at home, your close-knit network of friends and family can give you the support you need to get comfortable in your new surroundings. Call over the internet and send postcards.
- Learn the local language. Break the barrier between you and the baker, the kind lady at the post office or the grocer by learning the local lingo. This doesn’t just mean in non-English speaking countries… even English has it’s own vocabulary and dialects around the world.
- Take note of the little things. Instead of focusing on the major differences start picking up on the little details that make your new surroundings unique. Driving habits for example, language differences, social norms, customs, greetings, cultural taboos, etc.
It helps to be well-prepared when you take-off on a long trip across a continent or just move to another country. Check out these 5 mistakes first-time backpackers easily make before setting off, it could save you some stress later!
Have you ever dealt with culture shock? How did you cope and where?
Img: jblndl / flickr cc