After spending some time in a different culture, some people may develop some sort of cultural shock. We’re holding on tightly to our own culture while trying to adapt to something new and this is normal! You might find it frustrating in a new place, new school, far away from friends, family, support, and it may hit you that you will be there for quite some time. You might even experience a whole range of emotions.
stages of Culture Shock
You can expect to go through an initial period of euphoria and excitement as you are overwhelmed by the thrill of being in a totally new and unusual environment. This initial period is filled with details of getting settled into housing, scheduling classes, meeting new friends, and a tendency to spend a great deal of time with other U.S. students, both during orientation activities and free time.
Symptoms of Culture Shock
- Chronic physical symptoms (e.g., headache, stomach ache)
- Difficulty studying or working
- Frequent crying
- Relationship stress
- Feeling sick often
- Withdrawal from others
- Extreme homesickness
- Intense feelings of loyalty to native culture
- Over– or under-eating
- Excessive sleep
- Poor academic performance
Here are some helpful tips:
- Before leaving, get to know your host country a little. Learn as much as you can about basic etiquette, timekeeping, the governmental structure, prevalent religions, and other cultural customs.
- Don’t worry about losing your home values or yourself. You won’t.
- Enjoying and partaking in local customs doesn’t make you less of an American. It will open the door to understanding.
- Make new friends!
- Keep in mind it’s not better or worse, it’s just different.
- Be careful not to impose your thoughts and norms on others.
- Stay open-minded and curious to cultural difference.
- Make an effort to learn a little of the local language and don’t worry about mistakes. People abroad will appreciate your efforts.
- Be patient.
- Be flexible and adaptable.
- Keep your mind busy and be active!
- Be sure to have a good sense of humor and willing to laugh at yourself!
And here's what you can do if you are experiencing Culture Shock:
- Realize what you are going through is normal and temporary.
- If you're having difficulties, talk with someone about them.
- Take care of yourself - eat well, exercise, and be sure to get enough sleep!
- Do something you like if you're feeling down in the dumps! Or join a club, get involved!
- Travel or explore the city you are in!
- Don't take anything too seriously or let others get on your nerves.
- Try to regain stability. Form routines again.
- And again, be patient and open-minded! A good sense of humor will go a long way!