Anyone can have the chance of experiencing culture shock – from those on short or long vacation trips to even those who move permanently abroad to a new country, but apparently experiencing culture shock isn’t necessarily a bad thing and can actually be good for us.
For anyone not up to speed with the lingo, culture shock is the difficulty in adjusting to a new culture or environment. This can come in a number of different ways, such as not being able to understand the different customs and values to someone feeling way out of their normal comfort zone. This is a normal reaction to most people, especially those who may not have ample opportunity to travel to different countries a lot of the time. Our friends over at Work The World have looked at why culture shock can be good for you and how you can deal with it.
Experiencing a ‘shock to the system’, whilst sometimes may seem scary, can have some pretty positive responses from our bodies. According to their survey of over 3,400 exchange students, 98% of the respondents found that culture shock actually managed to help them better understand their own cultural values and biases and helped to vastly inspire maturity and confidence in themselves.
Some of their great suggestions to dealing with culture shock come in a number of forms, including that of making sure you are connected to your home life. By staying in touch with your family and friends, you will be able to remember that they are still there to help and support you and are behind you the whole way: rooting for you to go on your adventure. Cooking home comforts and keeping some of your favorite snacks from back home will also help you feel settled and happy, and by sharing these with your new friends abroad – you can also help bridge the cultural differences and open their eyes to things they may not have ever known about before.
The founder of eBay, Pierre Omidyar, believes that by challenging yourself and making yourself feel exposed, you will not only help to get adjusted and comfortable, but can even help to open your eyes about everything around you:
One of the things I tend to do is open myself up to a variety of voices. I try to expose myself to the kind of culture shock that occurs when you talk to people who speak a different language.
Remember, culture shock is natural and something we will all experience from time to time. Knowing how to handle yourself in such a situation will not only help you feel less worried and scared but also help you to take make sure you take those chances and go out there to explore the big, big world.
Where are you going to go to next?