Every time I move to a new country, I deal with some form of culture shock. I’ll be honest, the title is a tad misleading because you can’t really get over culture shock. You’ll just have to go through it. What I mean is that it isn’t something that can be avoided in most cases. But no worries because I want to help you out as much as possible so that you can really live your best life in your new city. So here are nine tips and tricks that I picked up along the way during my years of travel that can hopefully help you, too, with getting over culture shock.
1. Understand what you’re going through.
The first thing you need to do is realize that what you’re experiencing (feelings of isolation, depression, and/or sadness) is culture shock. If your attitude and physical state has started to feel a bit different from normal, then it’s pretty safe to say that you can likely blame it on culture shock. For more information on how to identify it, check out the Signs and Symptoms of Culture Shock.
2. Stay social.
Building your social circle with locals and long-term residents is one of the best things you can do to get over culture shock. Finding friends who are new to the country, too, and who you can talk with about your experiences can be therapeutic. Check out some of the entertainment your new place has to offer with your new circle. Don't worry too much about how to network, there are so many online communities that org
anize group meet ups that you’re bound to find one close to where you live. Don’t see any? Why not start it yourself?
3. Stop the comparisons.
This is where you might want to turn off your social media and focus on your own journey. People make life look so easy in pictures and videos that we often fail to realize that life is so much more than the highlight reels we see online. It seems like some people drop everything, move abroad, and live these amazing, happy lives with no stress. Remember, no one’s journey is the same. Maybe they’ve had years of experience in living or moving abroad and you’re just starting out. The challenges that you face may be different from others, but so are the rewards. You are what makes your experience and adventure so unique. So quit with all the comparisons, and live your best life!
4. Give yourself time.
Adapting to a new culture -- and in some cases a completely new way of life -- can be a whole lot to handle just like so many other things in life. You need
to allow yourself the time it takes to really become comfortable. The tricky part is being honest enough with yourself to come up with a true estimate on how much time you’ll actually need. As I’ve mentioned before, this will depend on your own circumstances. But if you follow the steps above it’ll make the process of getting through culture shock much easier and maybe even a little faster.
5. Share your own culture.
This can be therapeutic in so many ways. For one, you get to share the things you love with others, and reminisce about home. When you begin to show others your culture, maybe you’ll see how new everything is to your new friends, too. It’s helpful to see that just like them, you’re also learning something new. Lastly, perhaps by sharing, you’ll learn that your home culture isn’t all that different.
6. Become a tourist in your new home.
Getting out and exploring a new country can make you realize why you made the move in the first place. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity that you should take full advantage of in every single way possible. Try the local food, visit the well-known “tourist traps,” or take a road trip. These are the things that will make you appreciate both your new and old homes.
7. Do something familiar.
Just because you’ve moved to a completely new culture doesn’t mean you’ll need to give up everything you loved to do. A good way to feel at home is to bring a little bit of your past with you. Try getting the ingredients to make your favorite dish from back home, or carve out some time to watch your favorite TV shows. It’ll be a great way to feel more comfortable.
8. Get it out.
With culture shock comes a good bit of frustration, confusion and a whole lot of other emotions. It’s during this time that I always mention the importance of finding someone to talk to about what you’re going through so that you don’t risk letting any issues snowball into a much bigger problem. If you don’t have anyone to talk to, try journaling. Writing down how you’re feeling can be super helpful in getting it all out of your system. You can even keep your journals to read in the future, so you can see how far you’ve come. Maybe a few months or years down the line, you’ll be able to look back at those old entries and see how things that seemed so serious at the time really didn’t matter all that much.
Keep in touch with your family and friends at home, but make sure to have a healthy balance. Too much contact with home while you’re experiencing culture shock can intensify your homesickness. Try to keep in touch so that you feel a sense of foundation, and also to share your new experiences. But realize your new life is now in your new country.