You need ways to avoid culture shock for those moments when you realise “we’re not in Kansas anymore.” Moving to another country should be an exhilarating experience but when you land in a place so very alien to home, you can feel assaulted from all sides by massive differences. There are, however, ways to avoid culture shock to ensure you get the most from your stay.
1. Do Your Research
Because knowledge is always good, doing your research is one of the best ways to avoid culture shock. This is especially relevant when you haven’t booked a package deal and won’t just be staying by a pool for most times and venturing out on organized trips. Learn something about the place you are heading to, and this includes some of the basic phrases in the language to get you by.
2. Make a New Culture Buddy
If you can find someone in your destination to make friends with, feeling at home will be made far easier – and is a must if you are moving to a new country. Even if you’ve done really good research, having someone who can help you with the nuances of life is how to avoid culture shock overwhelming you. Surviving another culture is eminently easier when you have a person to guide you through new experiences and the little things that you need to know for getting on every day.
3. Celebrate the New Culture
There are going to be things that you don’t like or things you will struggle getting used to – this is what culture shock is all about. You can combat this by acknowledging or celebrating the things you do like. Each time there’s a negative, make sure you counteract it with a positive. It’s very easy to slip into a mindset of “I hate everything about this country,” and this is definitely to be avoided.
4. Be a Tourist
Getting to know your new country is one of the fun ways to deal with culture shock. Get out and about. See the sights and attractions as any tourist would and find the joy in them. Better yet, see them with a local who can add significance to them. Those magnificent mountains aren’t just there, the local floating market isn’t just a place to stock up on provisions; they are part of what makes your life tick in your new home. Go for walks. It is the best way to get to know about your neighbourhood and is the ideal way of seeing life being lived and picking up on how things are done.
5. Be Adventurous
Push yourself to venture into the new and unknown. Eleanor Roosevelt once said “do something that takes courage every day,” and this can be a great tenet to adopt and it's easy to do in surviving another culture. There will be so many new experiences around you that will take you out of your comfort zone, and even the most mundane things that at home you would see to be a chore, can be a way to push the boundary; simple things like taking your first bus ride by yourself, or a trip to the market instead of the supermarket where you have to talk to get what you need rather than pick it off a shelf.
6. Do Something Familiar
Just as doing something new is essential, doing something familiar is also how to avoid culture shock. Familiarity will help you avoid pining for home. Really easy things to do include finding the ingredients for and making your favorite dish or a familiar food from home, listening to music in your own language, and watching an international news channel in your own language (or finding a newspaper in your own language). Find ways to celebrate your own culture in a way that you can share it too. One fun way is to invite people to your home to celebrate one of your holidays in the way you would back home.
7. Keep in Touch
One of the last things you should do is constantly be on social media or your phone keeping up with friends and family back home. You need to stay in touch but don’t spend all your time on this because it will just add to any sense of being homesick. You’ll reap more rewards by going out, finding new friends and contacts, and immersing yourself in the culture.
Surviving a new culture can be hard work if you make it so. Invest time in yourself and adopt these ways to avoid culture shock and you’ll settle in nicely. Have your experienced culture shock? How did you deal with it?