We Survived Culture Shock 💪 (Here’s How You Can Too)

We Survived Culture Shock 💪 (Here’s How You Can Too)


Culture shock. Noun. The feeling of disorientation experienced
by someone who is suddenly subjected to an unfamiliar culture, way of life, or set of
attitudes. It’s some gnarly stuff, even after traveling
around the world, culture shock hits you like a freight train sometimes. We’re here with some real talk about culture
shock and our tried and true survival methods for when it hits. Because it will. But, lucky for you, with our help it won’t
hit quite so hard. And, when it does you’ll be able to bounce
back to rock the rest of your time abroad. Culture shock will hit everyone a little differently,
but generally there are four main stages involved. How hard each stage hits you, when each stage
hits you, and the order in which you experience all of this will vary. It’s a bit of a rollercoaster! But, that’s all part of the adventure, right? Stage 1: The Honeymoon Stage
This is exactly what it sounds like—you’re in LOVE. It’s kind of like everyday is that song
from The Lego Movie, like, “everything is awesome! Everything is cool when you’re part of a
team!” Like, that’s kind of your life. You’re infatuated with the language, with
the culture, the food, the people—the sky is bluer, the sun is brighter! Stage 2: The Frustration Stage. Everything hurts. You’re tired and you may or may not be dying. That high you were riding in the honeymoon
stage is over. O-V-E-R. You don’t understand anything because of
the language barrier. And, all you want is a Chipotle burrito with
extra guacamole and it’s nowhere to be found. This feels like the stage that never ends. It just hangs out with you and will randomly
show back up over the course of your experience, you never quite know when. This is when you might start feeling a little
homesick and a lot like you’re resenting your decision to go abroad—especially if
you’ve been at this awhile. Stage 3: The Adjustment Stage. Okay. This is just life now. Navigating public transportation is getting
easier. You can actually make small talk with vendors
at the fruit market. And, you’re starting to feel part of a community. It’s all back on the up-and-up! Everything’s coming up YOU. And, Finally: The Acceptance Stage
[Take a breath.] This is life abroad. You have a routine now, and while you might
not understand everything, or even like, everything—seriously, people eat chicken feet??? —you’ve arrived at a new normal. It’s not weird, it’s different, and you
may even find yourself adopting some new habits and tastes. How we survived: our best advice
I promise you will, everyone does, it’s all temporary. One thing I found most helpful was telling
myself to do at least one difficult—preferably social—thing per day. On hard days that was just buying groceries,
but other days it was expat meet-ups, or dinner out with my coworkers. The best way to survive culture shock is to
have other people who are experiencing the exact same thing. Talk to your friends in your program; talk
to your local coordinator; talk to anybody who is sharing that experience with you because
they can truly empathize. Remember to take time for yourself—read,
journal, go for a run, and if you need it, maybe even indulge in a little Parks and Rec. Something that really helped me was to have
my own blog. This way, I was able to keep in contact with
my family. But, also disconnect sometimes to make sure that you’re really present in your experience abroad. The sooner you accept how different everything
is, the sooner you will find the parts of your new location that feel like they are
really home. Culture shock is one of those things that
when you’re in the moment it feels like it’s never going to end. But, as soon as you’re out of it, you realize
you’ve learned so much about yourself. And you really will survive! I promise, I’ve been through it many times. It’s something you have to learn to love,
and you. Will. Love it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *