Are you concerned about culture shock? Some new expats think that it won’t affect them. Others make their move, prepared to handle it.
In this post, you’ll learn about common culture shock factors, the six stages of culture shock, and six ways to handle it. And, most importantly, why culture shock is good for you.
What is Culture Shock?
The term culture shock describes the effect of moving from a familiar culture to an unfamiliar one.
What can contribute to culture shock? Here are some of the common factors:
- Etiquette and behaviour
6 Stages of Culture Shock
- Trip Planning: This first stage is generally full of excitement as you plan your trip / move.
- Initial Euphoria: Sometimes called the “honeymoon stage” this begins when you first arrive in your new country and ends when the realities of life begin to sink in. At first, everything seems rosy – even perfect.
- Irritability: This is the stage that sometimes gets the better of expats. The frustration of “how they do things” can quickly take the shine off your relocation. This can be made worse by the inability to communicate in the local language. Unrealistic expectations only make this worse.
- Gradual Adjustment: With some patience, you can learn to adjust. As the local ways become familiar, you can learn how you should act and how to get things done. This usually happens in stages.
- Adaptation: As you learn how to function in the new culture, you’ll hopefully come to feel part of it.
- Re-entry Phase: Sometimes this is planned – other times a return home can be unexpected. Either way, you’ll probably realize that you have become a different person. Most expats have found that their time abroad has matured and inspired them. We were affected by reverse culture shock when we landed back in Canada earlier this year.
Below the infographic, find six suggestions for getting over a rough landing.
Why Culture Shock is Good for You [Infographic]
6 Ways to Handle Culture Shock
There is a huge set of Culture Shock country guides that will help you understand the nuances of your new home. While most of what these books say can be helpful, they can quickly go from observing the cultural differences to judging them.
- Stay Grounded: Realize that culture shock is normal. Most people deal with it, in varying degrees.
- Eat Comfort Food: Prepare some of your favorite foods from home – or maybe a variation based on what’s available locally.
- Get Active: Exercise will lift your mood, get your outside and improve your perspective. Look into joining local activity groups – sports or exercise. Consider learning a new sport.
- Stay Connected: Take the time to connect with friends and family. It will help with the transition and give you someone to share your progress with.
- Challenge Yourself: Set daily goals such as interacting with a new person each day. Or set the goal to learn a new word. Language learning is a critical step in adapting in your new home.
- Find a Guide: Find someone to help you learn the language and culture. You might find help online (forums or Facebook groups) or in person once you arrive.
More reading: 17 Best Expat Books
Why Culture Shock is Good For You
Culture shock means you’re growing. Breaking out of the familiar can be uncomfortable. But that is one of the best ways to grow as a person. When you understand what causes culture shock, and how to handle it, you’ll see that it really isn’t that bad.
Hang on and ride it out. You’ll be a stronger, more mature person on the other side.
How have you coped with culture shock? What are you dealing with right now? Please join the conversation below!