You are packing your bags for an overseas trip. Maybe you are leaving your home country for higher studies or a new career path. Once again, you check your luggage to see if you have missed anything. Your nerves are getting to you. But you manage to calm yourself. You are prepared. You are ready to leave familiarity behind and embrace something new, unique and out of your comfort zone. But nothing will prepare you for one thing which will strike you the moment your flight lands – culture shock. Read on to discover how overcoming culture shock in a foreign land is possible – you just need to ace a few steps.
Have an open mind about it
A foreign country is called foreign for a reason! Everything over there – right from people and clothing to food and mannerisms – might be drastically from what you are used to in your native land. And if it scares you, don’t worry. It is normal to be afraid of the unknown. But what you do once your gut has clenched itself is what matters the most.
Keeping an open mind about everything once you step in a foreign land is the key to overcoming culture shock. If something scares you, most of the times, it is only because you haven’t encountered it before. But don’t let that stop you from embracing what lies in front of you. Who knows, you might end up falling in love with it?
Seek help if required
Everything around you is vastly different from what you are accustomed to. Usually, when humans are confronted with something that appears out of their comfort zone, they retreat to their shells – both physically and mentally.
This means, when you are faced with culture shock, you are more likely to retreat and stay to yourself most of the times. No coffee outings with your classmates or going for a drink with your colleagues post work. This will be your biggest mistake and your indomitable hurdle in overcoming culture shock.
Here’s the thing – most people around you understand that this culture is new to you – and they will be more than willing to help you adjust. In fact, there are more people than you realize, who are just as new to this culture as you.
If you feel lost and confused at some point, ask for help from people around you. Almost everyone will be kind enough to help you out.
As mentioned above, you aren’t the only one in this boat of culture shock. Numerous other people around you are on the same page as you. So, one of the best ways of overcoming culture shock is to share your thoughts about it with others who experience the same.
Once you realize that everyone is just as perplexed as you are, things will be easier. And on top of that, when you interact with people who are also experiencing a culture shock, you are also making friends. Establishing connections with others around you is a great way to feel at ease and hone your social skills at the same time. And we all know how crucial social skills are when you are overseas.
Try to not be homesick
In the first few months after you arrive in overseas, you are bound to miss your home and your country terribly. No one has ever escaped from homesickness.
However, the more you think about home, the more you miss your loved ones, and the more you wish to go back home – all the more difficult it will be for you when it comes to overcoming culture shock.
You will undoubtedly miss your native culture when overseas, but try to minimize those feelings. They will only further alienate you from your current situation, and you will find it harder to adjust in a new land.
Fortunately we live in the digital age, and so, eradicating the feeling of homesickness can is a lot easier than ever before. You can now have video calls with your loved ones, or text them on a regular basis to get an update on their health and well-being.
Plus, with the rise of Instagram and better cell phone cameras, you can now revisit your fond memories whenever you desire.
Embrace your own culture
With most overseas destinations now turning into a melting pot of cultures, it is possible to find thousands of people from varied ethnicities, culture, and race.
And if you notice keenly, you will realize that most of the major cities in the world are no longer standing isolated with their own culture reigning supreme.
As such, you can now embrace your own culture and even find shades of the same throughout any overseas destination. In fact, people nowadays want to know more and more about different cultures and appreciate the nuances of the same.
Grab this opportunity and talk about what makes your culture so different and special whenever you get the opportunity to do so. This will drive away your fear of adjusting in a different culture and leave you with more connections than ever before.
Explore, explore, explore
The ‘shock’ in the words ‘culture shock’ exists only because you haven’t still familiarized yourself with the culture of the place you are in. You can tell your mind all you want to not be homesick, or you can embrace and spread your culture all you want – but if you aren’t willing to explore around you – you will find the process of overcoming culture shock next to impossible.
So, take time off your study or work, and explore the new world around you. Travel first to main attraction spots and slowly wander off into the lesser-known ones. Acquaint yourself with every nook and corner of your surroundings, and gradually, you will begin to feel at home.
Be open-minded, meet new people, make new friends, seek help when required, and travel as much as you can. Overcoming culture shock is easy if you twist the shock around and view it as an opportunity to lead a new life.