How to overcome cultural shock?
February 28, 2018
Moving abroad is an exciting proposition as it opens and presents new opportunities and possibilities. But what if this initial excitement for your international move wanes off and you feel suddenly down, lost or without interest in your new country? In all probabilities, you’ll be suffering from cultural shock. We tell you what it is and how to overcome it.
“At the beginning, everything was special: every day discovering new places, learning another language from the scratch, meeting new colleagues at work…but little by little, it became a routine, misunderstandings came up and I started to feel a bit down – explains an expat who moved abroad for work a couple of years ago-. I felt confused and I asked myself if moving abroad had been the right choice. However, after a while, I started liking my routine, I could understand others better, so misunderstandings disappeared, and I created my social circle. Now, I can confidently say it was one of the best decisions I have ever made.”
This expat experience isn’t uncommon, as blending and adjusting to another culture isn’t an immediate process. A lot of people who move abroad have felt the same way at some point – they have suffered from the so-called “cultural shock”.
What is a cultural shock?
The Oxford dictionary describes cultural shock as “the feeling of disorientation experienced by someone when they are suddenly subjected to an unfamiliar culture, way of life or set of attitudes”. To more or less extent, every expatriate experiences a cultural shock as it’s triggered by several factors, even though what may be a cause of cultural shock for one expat might not be the same for the other.
Causes of a cultural shock
What triggers culture shock vary from person to person, but some of the common causes are:
• Weather (extreme temperatures, lack of sunlight etc.)
• Language (communication in a foreign language, use of dialects etc.)
• Dressing codes (formal dressing code at work, social dressing norms etc.)
• Food (unable to find certain products, bland dishes etc.)
• Social roles and rules of behaviour (difficulties to identify non-verbal communication, local expectations)
How to minimize the cultural shock?
The good news is that if you are aware of the cultural differences and prepare yourself, you can mitigate the impact of the cultural shock.
1. Learn about your destination before you travel.
Search for the habits, typical foods or common behaviours. You can try to gather information about really broad topics such as education and etiquette, but also about daily practicalities like how to send a letter or the type of electrical outlets in the country.
Our destination guides offer a lot of minute details and information that you may need for a smooth settling-in.
2. Try to learn the local language and forget about the stereotypes
Studying another language is the best way to discover another culture and to break the stereotypes. It is also a way to know a bit of the local culture and will allow you to relate with the local people as soon as you arrive and avoid isolation.
3. Allow yourself time to adjust
Being fully immersed in a new society takes time. Therefore, don’t try to rush by setting high expectations and embrace this transition period.
At Crown Relocations, our destination service specialists ensure that you have a smooth transition to a new culture and that you enjoy what the city has to offer. To know more, enquire now.