How to Overcome Culture Shock?

Culture shock is that feeling of confusion, disorientation, disappointment and frustration that individuals experience when exposed to a different culture. This is very common among expats and their families as they constantly are taken out of their comfort zone to enter into a new and foreign environment. Culture shock is, however, “treatable”. In order to overcome the difficulties of culture shock, expats should work on three different areas:


Attitude: Easier said than done, but positive attitude and lots of energy are very important elements to combat culture shock. Trying to see the glass half full instead of the glass half empty, practicing empathy instead of criticizing everything that is new or different, could convert frustrating situations into more tolerable ones and even make them “anecdotical”. Expats should also try to be flexible and open-minded. They are encourage to avoid stereotyping and to forget any preconceived ideas they might have about the new culture in order to better adapt to their new destination.


Actions: Again, it takes a lot of energy but expats should aim to embrace the new culture by taking effective steps to adjust quickly to their host country like taking language courses, searching situations to engage with locals, trying local food and visiting and exploring cultural and religious sites. Joining expat organizations is another way to get to know individuals in the same situation, while also to having the possibility of participating in fun and cultural activities that help cope with culture shock.


Knowledge: The more and deeper knowledge about the new culture expats acquire, the better they understand and adapt to the host country. In that line, intercultural training is the right answer to help expats develop cultural competence so that they embrace the new culture and become more empathic, making the expat journey more pleasant and productive. Having a better understanding of the intricacies of a foreign culture allow expats to question less and enjoy more while abroad.


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