Culture Shock! Tips for deal with it.
Three weeks ago we talked about "culture shock" and tried to understand better what it deals with. Here are some advices to make the culture shock less important and the recovery easier when going abroad.
- Cultural relativism: focus on the idea that no one culture is "right" or "wrong". So don't use your own standards to compare and judge other cultures with, but try to understand why the way of doing of the other culture differs from yours, and vice versa.
- Get prepared: learn the language! Culture and language use are strongly linked. This will give you not only some control in the new culture once you get there, but also the opportunity to meet people and socialise. Making friends as soon as you can is important. Don't forget to find out about food, customs and so on before you go, not to be unpleasantly surprised or even shocked.
- Work on yourself: raise your self-awareness and listen to yourself! Be observant on what's going on around you, and try to notice behavioral differences. Try not to lose your temper, keep your sense of humor and reserve judgement when you get frustrated.
- Be sensitive, open and tolerant: when something goes wrong take a new look at yourself, try to understand if you might have done it the "wrong way" within the other culture. Don't dismiss things you don't know about. On the contrary, try to put yourself in the shoes of the other culture to better understand how their world is and why.
- Be social and extrovert: even if you tend to be shy, adopt a new identity and be the person you've always dreamed to be. Forget stereotypes! You blind yourself to all the other charateristics peculiar to the other culture when you focus on stereotypes.
Some situations to avoid! A common reaction to difference is seeking things you are acquainted with.
This is part of the critical stage 2 in cultural shock process: you tend to over-idealise your own culture and as a result, to make the gap between both cultures become more important! So be careful, this generally leads to super ethno-centric moaning situations in which you tend to downgrade the benefits of your host culture.
Don't forget that the main objective when going abroad is not to entirely replicate your home country, do you think it would be worth going in a foreign country then? ;) In a nutshell Enjoy differences!
See the positive side of this experience, and make the decision to adapt your habits and behaviour by changing them a little bit to better match the culture you're in. You will be surprised on how fast things will pleasantly evolve.
People will apreciate the effort you make, and you'll enjoy a lot this unique and rewarding experience!
Have you ever experienced cultural shock? What happened and how did you cope with it? Tell us about it!