5 Tips to Ease Culture Shock

interior Gare de Paris-Nord

Being able to experience a new country and its culture is a great privilege, but it can also come with its challenges. Even after the jet lag abates, you still have to confront a glaring truth: not every country is like the United States—or even close, for that matter. Anyone who loves to travel should celebrate that diversity, but also have a few tools in their arsenal to deal with culture shock. Check out the list we’ve compiled of five ways to keep your cool in a new setting:

  1. Know what you’re getting into. Doing research ahead of time can preemptively ease culture shock. Scour the internet for reliable sources that can give you insight into the culture you’ll be entering. Simply knowing how to greet someone or the proper way to order a meal will not only impress locals, it’ll also make you feel more at ease in a new place right off the bat.
  2. Expect the unexpected. The best way to go into any new experience is with an open mind, and that’s especially true when you’re meeting an entirely new people. If you travel to a new country expecting the comforts of home, you’re going to be disappointed. But, on the other hand, if you embrace the uniqueness of the customs, food, and other aspects of the culture, you may find yourself getting excited about just walking out the door every morning.
  3. Don’t allow too much downtime. This tip is especially applicable if you’ll be staying in a new country for an extended period of time. If you don’t plan lots of activities and join local clubs or groups, it’ll be easy to stay at home—and, subsequently, miss out on opportunities to learn. What’s more, you’ll have a hard time making friends if you never get out and explore your adopted country.
  4. Journal. The benefits of this journaling are two-fold. Not only may journaling help you process what’s happened to you throughout the day (including any encounters with cultural differences), but also it will preserve that day in time forever. As your present-day self works through culture shock, you’ll be making memories concrete for your future self. For the purpose of easing culture shock, you could even make an effort to list at least one or two positive parts of the culture that you discovered that day.
  5. Learn how to people-watch. It’s easy to get acquainted with a culture if you submerge yourself in it. One great way to do this is by claiming a table at a street-side cafe and simply people-watching. You’ll likely pick up on cultural customs and social cues that you wouldn’t be able to find in a textbook. People-watching also might lead to more interaction with locals, which can only help you acclimate even faster.
    1. Tips to Ease Cultural Adjustment [University of California Irvine Study Abroad Center]
      8 Tips to Ease Culture Shock & Reverse Culture Shock [Study Abroad Spotlight]
      Culture Shock [International Student Guide to the United States of America]

      • September 18th, 2015
      • Posted in: AVA