Culture shock is a fairly common phenomenon that occurs within intercultural transitions, usually a short-term feeling of disorientation that results from the unfamiliarity of surroundings in a new environment. Many experience this when either going abroad for the first time or when they first arrive in a new city. If you find yourself feeling discomfort or anxiety upon arriving in your destination, don’t panic–it is completely normal and to be expected! Below are some tips that are likely to help you overcome this short-term phase and move on to enjoying your time abroad.
Prepare yourself for the transition
While there is really only so much preparation you can do beforehand without actually being present in the new environment, it can help ease the transition. Being aware of different cultural norms and practices, such as eating patterns or where to stand on the escalator, can help make day-to-day transitions easier. Read as much as you can beforehand and talk to people you know who have visited the culture to get a firsthand experience of what to expect.
Commit yourself to learning the language
If you are going to a country that speaks another language, learning that language or at least having a basic understanding of it can help exponentially. Once you are there, make an effort to learn daily phrases that will help you to get around and communicate. Being able to make your way around and communicate with locals will help smooth the transition.
Make new friends
Making friends is one of the best ways to overcome culture shock. Often times locals in your new city will be happy to show you around or give you advice. Make an effort to talk with your new classmates, coworkers, or fellow volunteers and explore the city together. Seeing a friendly face is always a relief and will likely be the quickest way to overcome any anxiety you may be experiencing.
Participate in cultural events
Taking an active part in the new culture will expose you to cultural norms and customs. This could be anything from eating at an authentic restaurant, going to a family event of your host family’s, or attending a cultural event in your city. The more you familiarize yourself with the environment surrounding you, the more you will grow comfortable within it.
Lastly, patience is one of the best pieces advice available for someone experiencing culture shock. If you begin to feel frustrated with the transition, don’t be too hard on yourself–everyone experiences it to some point. Be patient and make the most of your time abroad, it is sure to be one of the most memorable experiences of your life!