Many times situations occur in your life where you realize that your residing place does not support your livelihood because such place does not have resources to fulfill your ambitions. Also, if you plan to travel to a foreign land, you may come across some differences in the form of eating, partying, speaking or any other habits that you are comfortable with. So, you make arrangements for shifting to a new place, which is within your country or it might be to a foreign country.
You will find that a deviation has taken place in your lifestyle, food habits, communication process, etc. All these changes take shape of cultural shock, which is a sort of anxiety that is produced when you relocate to a new place. Due to anxiety, you become confused and fail to distinguish between what is right and what is wrong.
Cultural shock is not a one day phenomenon. When you start residing at a new city or town, you may find difficulty in adjusting to customs, language, food habits and even you will face difficulty in interacting with new people working or moving around you. A person like you may experience symptoms of cultural shock in due course of time like headache, stomach upset, irritation, very much concerned with health issues, loneliness, getting tired easily, distrusting people, hopelessness, homesickness, unsatisfactory performance etc.
Know the Stages of Cultural Shock
Cultural shock comprises of many stages. There are stages that may be ongoing or appear for certain period of time.
In the first stage, you may feel pleased or overjoyed by seeing things coming across you. Like, you are having a bus ride while going to your workplace. You may become happy by seeing high-rise buildings, restaurants, shopping malls, etc. This type of elated feeling will make a change for some point of time.
During cultural shock, you suffer from disillusion. You are liable to encounter some differences or difficulties in your routine life. Communication barriers, customs, food, attitude of people, all add up to your misery. At such stage, you will have feelings of impatience, unhappiness, sadness, anger and a feeling of incompatibility. This happens when try to tune yourself towards new culture which is different from your own. At such stage, you start comparing your country or state with the new place and assume that your native place is the best among others.
The third stage of cultural shock is characterized by gaining some knowledge about the new country, its traditions and people staying there. At this juncture of time, you start feeling a sense of pleasure while attaining a psychological balance. You do not feel lost and begin to make a schedule leading to a proper direction. Now, you are much more familiar to the environment and start developing a feeling of belongingness.
The fourth stage of cultural shock surfaces with the onset of integration stage when you stay for a long period of time in a foreign land. At this stage, you can differentiate between good or bad things you experience during your stay. During integration stage, you start developing a feeling of belongingness. You try to position yourself in situations and start defining your goals and priorities.
The final stage of cultural shock produces its effects, when you permanently return to your native place or you come to your home for enjoying a vacation. You can find that things you perceive in your homeland are not the same as before. You can see that the newly acquired customs that you gathered from a foreign country is not fit at your native country. Your friends or family members will be surprised to see remarkable changes in you and they may treat you indifferently and you will feel that you are neglected.
Finding out ways of coping with cultural shock is a painful task. But, you should know that nothing in this world is impossible. If you are totally determined and poised, you can overcome such stressful situation.
Step 1 – Gain knowledge About New Place Before You Relocate
You should always gather every possible knowledge about a new place before your relocate. Before your prior arrival to a new country, learning about traditions, rituals and customs will help you to cope up with cultural shock in a better way. If you make a study beforehand, you will be able to know, what people of that place expect from you and how you are going to present yourself before them in order to avoid discomfort that may occur at either side.
For your convenience, read some travel guides related with the country you are going to relocate and know about the tastes and preferences of foreigners. Also, learning a country’s history, current affairs and age old traditions will give you a sense of getting connected to people easily.
Step 2 – Step Out From Your Comfort Level
You should always keep your mind focused while gathering information about a new place. It is vital on your part to know that different cultures have different social guidelines, customs, practices and views. As per a past survey, it has been found that there are foreign cultures which have a different way of perceiving things, which are completely different than your own. If you are prepared beforehand, it will be easier to fit yourself in a new cultural surrounding without facing any difficulty.
Step 3 – Socialize With People – Make More Friends
This is an important measure for overcoming cultural shock. While you are staying at a foreign land, you should join some classes or take part in programs related with culture, where you can find people friendly towards you and they share your values. Making friendship with people belonging to your native country or signing up classes with people speaking your language can reduce effects of cultural shock.
Step 4 – Stay In Regular Touch With Your Family
While staying abroad, you should regularly stay in touch with your family members or friends. Your own people can play a pivotal role for extending all possible help during your adjustment period. Establishing a regular connection with your family members is useful in reducing cultural shock.
But, you should stick to a limit; otherwise, you may suffer from homesickness that will lead to under performance at your workplace. As a regular practice, a weekly video chat or phone call is sufficient enough to spend your time with your family for overcoming cultural shock.
Step 5 – Learn Local Language Of the Place Where You Are Going To Relocate
Learning the local language of a place where you are going to relocate will significantly reduce the effects of cultural shock. You can join a language class at your homeland or after reaching your destination you can enroll at a language institute operating there.
Learning local language can build confidence in you and it help you to easily communicate with people at your workplace or other places. An advantage of learning a language is that you can develop a sense of trust and closeness with people staying there. Also, you can understand situations where you are likely to be cheated and taking suitable steps for averting menace.
Step 6 – Learn About Culture Through Media Vehicles
While staying at a foreign country for a long period of time, you can learn about its culture through programs aired through various media vehicles like, newspapers, television channels, magazines ,etc. You should watch commercials featured on regular basis at local TV channels as they can help you in knowing ongoing trends among people and having idea about their tastes and preferences.
Step 7 – Make Sure You Stick To Proper Diet
Food affects psychology of a person. When, you are staying away from your home, you may find that you are facing difficulty in procuring food that you easily can avail at your native place. You can surf on net and figure out stores or shops selling food items that you eat everyday. Compare the prices and place orders accordingly. Maintain a simple diet as it will provide you necessary nutrients to overcome stress. Refrain from late night parties that hamper your sleep cycle. Also, you must perform regular workouts for keeping your mind and body in good conditions.
Step 8 – Try to Organize Trips At Weekends
When you work all throughout a week at your office, your mind becomes stressed and you cannot concentrate upon your assignments further. In order to come out of stress, organize adventurous trips during weekends with your colleagues. This will also reflect a sense of appreciation for you. While your mind and soul will feel relaxed while you take such trips, this will also help you to interact more with new people and know them more that will gradually help you to deal with the cultural shock.
Almost everyone who visits a new place experiences cultural shock in one way or the other. What matters most is how you handle it and does not allow it to get over you. Work out these above-mentioned steps and you can see a remarkable change in you while adapting to a new situation at a foreign land.