Top ten ways to deal with culture shock may help coping with a new, stressful environment and recognize that you may be dealing with culture shock. Our original article on culture shock goes in depth into the symptoms and examples of culture shock.
The following 10 tips will help you become grounded and more functional in your new home abroad. For more specifics about the signs of culture shock, click here.
Top ten ways to deal with effects of culture shock
1. Recognize and be aware of the symptoms
In a nutshell, feeling irritable, short tempered, depressed, feeling vulnerable, or feeling powerless are just some of the ways culture shock manifests itself in our daily lives. Often times these feelings go unnoticed, until we return home to our apartment after work or after a long day out. It’s important to recognize these feelings. Only then can we start making progress in tackling them and helping to adjust to a new culture.
What is it that’s making you uncomfortable? Is it the traffic, the loss of personal space, the unusual tastes and textures of the local food? There are dozens of reasons why one might feel uncomfortable or awkward in a new place, especially when you’re far from home.
2. Understand what you miss
Reflect on what you miss from your hometown and how this affects your experience, but don’t obsess about it. It’s important to understand what you miss but not let these thoughts consume you.
Once you have a sense of these things you can find ways to grow and expand your world. Stretch your mind, reach out to others, and be active socially.
3. Develop relationships
Begin by making friends, going on short trips, enjoying new experiences with friends you’ve made from your host country. Always keep an open mind. Join a group that includes both foreigners and locals.
4. Travel in your host country
Do you particularly enjoy the beach, or mountains? Do you consider yourself a photographer, or a writer? Are you a food aficionado? Consider these things and make plans to travel around and meet people in the country.
The experiences you have will stay with you for the rest of your life and have a positive impact on your well being.
5. Keep in touch with friends and family
With the ubiquity of Wi-Fi and access everywhere, its easier than ever to stay in touch with friends and family back home. Stay in touch and share your experiences. Keep up with family and friends back home.
6. Seek out local food
Try different delicacies wherever you find yourself. Don’t be afraid to stretch a bit and challenge your culinary predispositions. It might help though, to start with food that’s similar to something you might enjoy from back home. In this way you are not only taking the opportunity to enjoy more of the local cuisine, but you are also doing it gradually, which will help lessen the effects of the subtle shock of being in a “strange, foreign country”.
7. Learn the local language!
Learning the local language, wherever you go, is probably one of the best things you can do to mitigate the effects of culture shock. The sooner you begin to understand what’s happening around you, the sooner you’ll learn to adapt and better-relate with the people you encounter in your daily activities.
8. Read up on the local culture
Getting to know how the culture in your new home has developed and how this makes people tick can be mind-opening. You’ll have a better understanding of why people behave the way they do. All the time, be kind and respectful.
9. Take some classes or seminars
As a part of at a local university, or get involved with local community groups
10. Join Facebook or Meetups group
Join Facebook or Meetup groups that includes both foreigners and locals. This leads to chances to befriend locals, as well as connect with other foreigners and share experiences.