Traveling the world and teaching English abroad can be an amazing thing. You get to see sites unique to that region, explore and learn about the culture and history and you get to meet people who are different than you. It is a great way to expand your horizons. But when you step out of your comfort zone, you can often run into culture shock. No one is immune to it. But what is it? And how can you deal with it?
This is a comprehensive look at culture shock and how to handle it as recommended by TheTEFLAcademy.
What is Culture Shock?
Culture shock is defined as “the feeling of disorientation experienced by someone who is suddenly subjected to an unfamiliar culture, way of life, or set of attitudes.” It happens to anybody and can occur at different times. It may hit you immediately, after a few weeks or even months. People have noted that they can feel depression, fear or frustration, as well as excitement. It really depends on the individual person. And you can experience culture shock if it is the first time you’ve traveled abroad or the hundredth time.
Common Symptoms of Culture Shock
As noted, culture shock is different for each person. But there are some common traits that many travelers share. A lot of people can feel a heightened euphoria of being abroad and experiencing new things. They can also feel isolated or homesick. There are constant comparisons between the new country and your home culture, as well as a hyperirritability or frustration with how people do things in different cultures.
Some travelers do not want to leave their rooms, preferring to stay inside and on technology. Others experience boredom, unexplained crying, and constant exhaustion. Finally, there is overeating or under-eating, as well as anxiety. If you or someone you know is experiencing any of these symptoms, then you might have a case of culture shock on your hands.
How to Overcome Culture Shock
Even though you have culture shock, that does not mean that you can’t get rid of it. There are a lot of tips on what to do to overcome this issue. Here are a few:
– Learn as much about where you are headed.
Try gaining as much information as you can before you travel to your new destination. Look through travel blogs and guidebooks to learn more. You can also subscribe to news updates so you know when something important is happening. If there is an emergency happening in the region, then it is good to be constantly updated about the situation.
Also, try talking to people who have already been there to get a better idea of the area. Know where and where not to go, as well as the best places to immerse yourself in the culture. And don’t stop learning once you get there. Stay open-minded and be ready to try new experiences.
– Connect with a home.
Just because you are abroad doesn’t mean you can’t stay in contact with friends and family. Talking to them will help get rid of homesickness. Set up a weekly Skype session to update them on your adventures. And don’t be afraid to spend some time watching TV from back home. Just be sure you don’t stay inside too much, or else you’ll miss out.
– Get involved and make new friends.
If you miss your friends, then why not make some new ones? Involve yourself in new communities or groups. You’ll meet new people with similar interests and you can hang out with them. This will help improve your socialization and stop you from feeling too lonely. Everything’s better when you have a friend to enjoy it with.