Cultural exchange is a great opportunity to learn about another country, its culture, institutions, and especially its language. Traveling and living in another country is an enrich experience that helps to open the mind, to be tolerant, and value the diversity of the other.
WHAT IS CULTURE SHOCK?
Culture shock is conceptualized as the consequence of a state of anxiety produced by contact with a new culture, accompanied by feelings of loss and confusion. It is also a feeling of helplessness produced by the challenge of a new cultural context and by the loss of the familiar cultural environment (Winkelman, 1994).
Everyone adapts to a new country and its culture differently, so the culture shock you may experience depends on the length of time you plan to stay in another country, as well as your ability to tolerate ambiguity and the degree of difference between the country in which you live and the country you have chosen as your destination.
STAGES OF CULTURE SHOCK:
When people are adjusting to a new country, they usually go through, to varying degrees, four stages:
- The honeymoon
Typically in this stage, people feel as if they are on vacation, honeymoon, or short business trips. The first few weeks are filled with excitement, happiness, positive expectations, and idealizing the new culture. In some ways, this stage is the opposite of culture shock because people have experiences restricted to hotels, resorts, and airports which keep them isolated from having to deal with the local culture substantially.
- The crisis or a culture shock
During the next few months, or as soon as you arrive in the country, some people may feel that things are not going well, small situations become big problems, and cultural differences are irritating. You may experience frustration and impatience, believe that you are not in control of your own life, and begin to idealize the life you had in your home country. All of these issues may be heightened by the language barrier. You will find countless reasons to dislike the government and criticize its culture. Consequently, the most common thought will be to want to go back home.
- The adjustment
This stage is related to the process of learning to adjust effectively to the new culture. There may be a non-adjustment adjustment such as deciding to return home or isolating yourself by relating only to people from your own country and avoiding learning about the new culture. However, it is necessary to adjust and adapt. For this, it is necessary to acquire the problem-solving skills useful in dealing with the culture and begin to accept it with a positive attitude.
This stage is achieved once the person experiences a sustainable adaptation, effectively solves problems, and manages the new culture. Some people develop a dual cultural identity and internalize the new cultural aspects into their thinking and interpretation of the world. However, it takes many years to reach this stage, and it is ideal for getting it only if, among your plans, you are planning to move entirely to a new country or stay there indefinitely.
WHAT TO DO TO MANAGE CULTURE SHOCK SUCCESSFULLY? HOW TO ADAPT TO ANOTHER COUNTRY:
Understand what culture shock is and its stages. Develop self-awareness and behavioral strategies to overcome culture shock, among these:
Learn the language to communicate with locals, which will reduce your stress levels and the effects of culture shock. If you don’t know the language well yet, use different services that will help you to adapt well. Suppose you need to apply for an internship and prepare a cover letter or something – you can use paper writing services to hire an author who helps you make it well.
Be prepared to deal with cultural differences. The more you learn about the host country’s culture, the easier it will be for you to deal with new ideas and experiences. Be sensitive to differences and always be careful when expressing your ideas.
Be open-minded. Be flexible in accepting cultural differences and alternative ways of doing things. The unfamiliar may be intimidating at first, but you will find yourself considering once strange experiences as expected over time.
Be patient. Adapting to a new culture takes time. Be patient with yourself and allow yourself to make mistakes so you can learn from them.
Take a time-out. It helps to get away from everything that seems unfamiliar to you. When you feel that adjusting is too complicated, do an everyday activity. For example, read a book, watch a movie or listen to music in your language. You can also learn to prepare traditional recipes from your country, so you can enjoy a dish that reminds you of home. These activities will fill you with energy and help you better cope with any difficulties you are going through.