Preparing For Culture Shock

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Reducing culture shock

After moving to a new location with a different culture, you may feel an initial sense of happiness that over time changes to feelings of frustration. If you experience a range of emotions while in a new culture, then your feelings may be symptomatic of culture shock.

Proactive tips

Fortunately, there are ways to reduce culture shock before entering your new cultural environment. Before your move, you can increase the likelihood that culture shock will be reduced by following these suggestions:
  • Adjust sooner rather than later. If possible, try to visit your new home a couple times before moving. Through books and online research, you can explore various aspects of your new culture that intersect with your interests. Also, try to participate in cultural pastimes like festivals and carnivals to help make your new home more familiar.
  • Consider your reasons. Directly address aspects of the move that may produce apprehensive feelings that aren't related to living in a different culture.
  • Make what's foreign familiar. Try to establish what you have in common with your new culture by asking questions. Maybe a particular food is prepared with ingredients you like or the music performed with instruments you can play. Connecting with cultural nuances can provide a more layered and personal bond with your new location.
  • Build a rapport. Try to connect with schools and groups in your new area before you move. This can be done through e-mails, social media sites, and phone calls. Creating opportunities to meet people can help you feel more confident in your efforts to know a new culture.
  • Create your own positive outlet. To express your feelings about moving to another culture, you might want to start a journal, diary, or blog to chronicle only the positive details about moving to a new cultural environment.
  • Consider taking language courses. Feeling as though you are unable to communicate with others can be a catalyst for culture shock. To avoid this situation, if you don't know the language spoken in your new location, then consider taking language courses.
Culture Shock Stages

  • Excitement - You are excited to be in a new culture.
  • Withdrawal - Everything seems foreign to you, and you feel isolated.
  • Adjustment - You feel that you can communicate better with people and feel more secure in your daily activities.
  • Enthusiasm - You feel settled, energized, and comfortable in your environment.

Though there is no way to guarantee that you won't experience culture shock when you move to a new home, there are several things you can do to minimize culture shock symptoms. The best way to prepare against culture shock is to familiarize yourself with the location as much as possible before you move. Also, talking with others who have adjusted to a new culture can help keep your perspective positive. Whether you are moving to a foreign country or a few hours away, culture shock can affect you to some degree. It is important to consider how your actions can reduce feelings that you are in an unfamiliar culture.

Patrick Hanan  Posted by Patrick Hanan on August 27, 2009

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