Culture shock happens when you find yourself in a new environment. You begin to notice that things aren’t quite the same as they are at home. You experience new foods, people, smells, music, language, traffic, etc.
Sometimes culture shock can be tough and you’ll want to pack your bags and take the first flight home. Or you may wonder if you’ve made the right decision to travel in the first place.
Just know that this is normal.
If you are in a new place remember a few things:
Why did you decide to go in the first place? Even though it may be hard at times, remembering your why can help you make it through.
It’s normal to feel overwhelmed…like a fish out of water…or maybe even stressed. But don’t allow yourself to stay in this headspace. It’s okay if you just stay in your room and get yourself together. But then get back out there. Put one foot in front of the other, and just take in the experience moment by moment, day by day.
If you’re not busy, you’re more likely to feel homesick or lonely because you’ll be thinking about home. Keeping a full schedule allows you to take in what the country has to offer and it will help you expand your social network. Initially, keep busy to avoid having a lot of downtime and when you get home at night, you’re ready to sleep. This will help you not to be alone with your own thoughts. When you are alone with your own thoughts, feelings of homesickness, sadness, and loneliness can creep in.
If you’re in a country for an extended period of time, make friends with the locals. You may have a deeper and richer experience in the country that you’re in if you befriend the locals. Your perspective about the country may be different than if you just hung around expats all the time. Be sure to check out 5 Ways To Meet People Overseas.
Although research can never replace experiencing a country first hand, it can be an important step to helping you build familiarity with your destination. You might get a picture of what it’s like to visit or live in the country by seeing what others have to say. Just keep an open mind. What you read and hear online might differ from what you experience.
In the beginning, especially, check-in with loved ones. Let them know you’re safe and give them updates. However, try not to spend all of your time talking with them. This could cause you to be even more homesick.
Whenever I am overwhelmed or stressed out about a situation I try to find the positive. If I’m homesick for example, I will write down all the things that are going right and things I appreciate. This helps to shift my perspective.
Also, I write down things I can control that I know will help me feel better. This might include spending time in the sun, going for a jog, drinking water, or treating myself to a piece of cake.