Traveling to another country is the best way to discover a new culture. As soon as we step into the busy streets of cities such as Mumbai or Dehli, the new scents and colors mix with unknown words to create what we like to describe as a beautiful chaos. However, all these elements are also ingredients of the perfect recipe for a culture shock.
The culture shock is described as the disorientation one feels when traveling to a contrasting cultural environment. The language barrier, a different set of social rules, information overload and homesickness are all part of this “phenomenon”. In most cases, the shock takes place during the first weeks of the stay. However, it might happen even months after the arrival.
Those facing the shock go through four different stages:
- Honeymoon: Everything seems incredible and perfect. The “new” fascinates us and the excitement often makes the environment seem better than it actually is.
- Negotiation: Excitement fades and we realize the differences between our home country. Little things, such as missing the bus of forgetting the keys, lead to frustration. There is also a sense of “not belonging”.
- Adjustment: This stage is about getting used to the new culture and coming in good terms with it.
- Adaptation: At this point, you can get along with the new environment and the daily life is no longer a challenge or leads to frustration.
We have three tips to deal with the culture shock. Although it is impossible not to experience some kind of surprise and confusion during the first weeks of the stay, our advice will certainly help to make it bearable.
1. Look for explanations
Host families can be the best “guides” to their country. They should be the connection to their culture and for that reason, they should explain traditions and social rules. Au Pairs can also look for explanations with other expats and locals.
2. Learning the new language
Although mastering a language will take a while, learning the basics to have a fluent conversation and understand what is going on is the key to start adapting.
3. Think of equivalents
Compare the new culture with your home culture. Do not think about one being better than the other! Rather look for similarities.
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