What is Culture Shock and How to Beat It

You were excited to be in a new country, but now you’re not so sure. You may be going through culture shock, something pretty normal that everyone goes through. We’re here to help!

What is Culture Shock?

Culture shock is a way of explaining all those feelings you have after you arrive in a new country or a different cultural environment. There are several factors to consider, such as how big are the cultural differences in the new environment or how long you’re away from home.

The Honeymoon Phase: You’re having a great time. Everything is exciting and new! The people, the food, the buildings. This phase can last days, weeks, or months.

The Honeymoon is Over Phase: This is when you start to dislike things, such as attitudes, the food, the weather, the TV shows, everything now you’re noticing differences. Unfortunately we  can’t tell you when this phase starts, it could be just a few days, it could be a couple of months.

The Negotiation Phase: Again, we wish we could tell you when this phase starts, but it depends on the person. This is when you decide to be negative about everything or make the most of being in a new environment. You’ll start to feel a balance and a new perspective on life.

The All’s Well, or Everything is OK Phase: You  begin to feel more comfortable with all the differences in this new culture. You may not feel you completely belong, but you are comfortable enough to enjoy the differences. You won’t love the place like you did in the first phase, but you’re not as negative as you were in the second phase.

The Reverse Culture Shock Phase: This is when you feel absolutely comfortable and you are used to the way things are in this new place! Believe it or not, you can go through all these phases once you return home.

How to deal with Culture Shock

  • Learn everything you can about where you’re going before you leave home. This is the time zone differences, the food, the weather, political system, everything!
  • Don’t stick to stereotypes. There may be people who fit your image of being an American, but you can’t apply that image to everyone.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Be open-minded and willing to learn. Practice speaking the new language.
  • Have a sense of humor! Silly things will happen, might as well laugh about it.
  • Don’t be hard on yourself. Moving to a new place is hard.
  • Whatever you do, don’t give up experiencing the new culture. Travel to a new place, continue trying new foods. You never know when you’ll come across something you really like.
  • Build new friendships. We’ll have an article soon about how to make American friends.
  • Associate with positive people. Negative people will bring you down. You don’t need that!
  • It’s so important to be mentally and physically healthy. Stay active, eat well, and get enough sleep.
  • Bring a few touches of home with you, such as photos of favorite locations and family members, your favorite music, or favored knickknacks.
  • Don’t forget to call home. Use Skype, email, Google Voice. Your family and friends can provide you comfort.

 

Do you have advice on how to overcome culture shock? Comment below or share on our Facebook page!

 

Featured photograph courtesy

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