Culture shock is not just a myth—it can happen to any seasoned traveler. It’s what we experience when we are out of our comfort zone and away from the familiar. This feeling of disorientation, brought on because of sudden exposure to an unknown environment, can stop you from learning and gaining the most from your trips.
Some people experience feelings of sadness, insomnia, intense homesickness, irrational insecurities, headaches, pains and anger while traveling abroad. No need to fear, traveler. We’ve got a list of ways to cope with culture shock so you can get on with your visit.
1. Play it safe and research the culture of the area you are visiting.
Learn about any unique body language, social norms or laws that a visitor should be aware of prior to stepping off the plane. It’s easy to still make a culture faux pas, but this can help you to not offend anyone.
2. Don’t become withdrawn.
It may be a bit overwhelming (and maybe you feel intimidated because nobody quite understands anything coming out of your mouth) but keep at it. You will learn a lot in a short period of time, so go easy on yourself and don’t become discouraged.
3. Ask questions in a respectful manner.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help! You’ll be surprised to see how much people actually love to teach and share about their culture, just be considerate in your questions.
4. Do something that feels familiar everyday.
Keep up a consistent routine of communication with loved ones. Try setting up planned phone dates or start up a pen pal system with your family and friends. Stick to what makes you, you. Even bringing along your favorite book can help you feel more at home anywhere you go.
5. Remember to stay active, get plenty of sleep and stay healthy.
Just because you have left home doesn’t mean you have to leave behind all of your healthy habits! Sometimes these simple actions can be the fine line between you feeling distraught and disorganized, and feeling in control ready for the travels that lay ahead.
6. Have a sense of humor.
Every once in awhile, you’re going to make a mistake and feel silly about it—try to enjoy it. No one is ever judging you quite as harshly as you are judging yourself, but everyone loves to see someone truly enjoying themselves.
7. Find something that you value about the culture, every day.
Whether it is a fun fashion trend or the sweet way the local bakery makes the bread, admire the beauty in the world around you. Jot these things down and you’ll always have written memories that remind you of your visit.
Author: Mariel Sahad