How to Reduce Culture Shock
How to Reduce Culture Shock
Some people may ask how to reduce culture shock if they are new to travelling, or are looking to explore a new destination which is different to their home country.
First let’s first understand what culture shock is. Based on Cambridge Dictionary, culture shock is “a feeling of confusion felt by someone visiting a country or place that they do not know”, or “a feeling of confusion that results from suddenly experiencing a culture with customs that are not familiar to you”.
Some people experience culture shock whilst visiting new locations, which is a natural feeling and can be reduced by how you prepare beforehand, and possibly two you can deal with this uncomfortable feeling whilst away.
Generally the more you travel to different to countries and experience different living standards, cultures and environments, you are less likely to experience culture shock. However it can still occur, so it’s always best to be prepared, acknowledge when it occurs, then handle it the best you can at the time.
Preparation to Reduce Culture Shock
To assist with reducing culture shock on your travels, aim to preparing for your upcoming trip, yet not to go over the top and start to be concerned of any differences there may be of where you live to where you’re visiting.
Some research to carry out prior to visiting your upcoming destination:
- watch various YouTube videos, preferably the latest uploads the better for up to date information
- find out the living conditions of locals, and where you’ll be based
- what types of food and meals will be available and offered when you’re there
- what languages do locals speak
- are you able to learn few key phrases in the local language leading up to your trip
- can you connect with a like minded local prior to arriving, who can be your local friend and directive
The aim is to be prepared not alarmed leading up to your trip. The research is about gaining knowledge of an area, whilst improve your awareness prior to arriving there. Gaining this information prior, will also hopefully get excited in your upcoming travels, and be left on a high ready to travel!
Reducing Culture Shock at a Destination
Be aware that you may likely come across different in some form to locals, whether it be by looks, different behaviours, different communication styles or language, different eating habits, clothing, the list is endless. First don’t try to compare yourself to locals, remember one of the main reasons we travel is to experience other cultures and communities, so we need to expect we’re going to be different in some form or another. We are both unique and individual, it will help you adjust knowing that you don’t compare yourself against the locals.
Upon arriving at your new destination, from your previous research you’ve carried out, you are going to already know partly what to expect, although it will still be foreign to you, so be open to new sights, smells, communication styles, transportation style, ways of life, overall just generally everything may be different and could be the complete opposite to what you’re use to back home.
Aim to not have high expectations, nor expect the same way of life of how you live at home. Reducing those expectations will also help you reduce culture shock at a destination.
Once arriving at a destination, try some of these tips to reduce culture shock at a destination:
- be aware of your surroundings, know what areas / streets are safe and what isn’t
- ask your accommodation for suggested streets or zones to slowly expose you to the region
- explore the local streets or area to become comfortable with the area
- visit tourist attractions so you’re near like minded people
- try to befriend other travellers, either which you organised via to arriving, or at a local tourist areas or hostels
- meet with a local who can show you around and make you more relaxed, whilst learning along the way
- do activities that make you happy and provide a positive outlook on the destination from the outset
Dealing with Culture Shock
If you start to feel yourself not coping or adjusting to a destination, you may feel uncomfortable and maybe shutting off mentally or physically, try to make some changes to see if they help you feel better.
- acknowledge how you feel, don’t ignore your emotions
- remind yourself why you wanted to venture to the destination
- write down the positive experiences you’ve had on your trip and your emotions
- go to a popular tourist area, cafes and restaurants to mingle with likeminded people
- seek out food that is familiar to you
- reach out to others locally for their support and guidance for assistance
Remember it is ok to have some personal time to yourself to adjust to a country, yet remaining active will likely help you reduce culture shock and improve your feelings and experiences.
Reducing culture shock can be achieved, and the more you travel outside your country, the more you will help reduce the likelihood of experiencing culture shock.
This is by no means medical advice and recommend you seek professional independent medical advice on your particular circumstances.