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That Awkward Moment When You Visit Another Country: Culture Shock

Going abroad to study or to work is not as easy as it looks.  Today 1/3 of the population of the world have yet to travel out of their countries for a glimpse into a different surrounding, and a variety of cultures. While it’s common to experience culture shock when exposed to or living in a foreign country for an extended period of time, different people react differently to cultural differences. Learning and understanding about a culture different from your own are part of the necessary steps one needs to take towards adapting to the lifestyle of a different country. Essentially, while culture shock is common, some people have much stronger reactions than others.

Perhaps you have had quite a few culture shocks yourself, but in the case that you are a late bloomer to the traveling and are still feeling uneasy about taking your very first step onto foreign land, I’m here to give you some good news, culture shock makes the most memorable moments once you have lived past them and they will give you the most unique experiences of your life. The key is…perception, how we face with culture shock is entirely up to us and as a frequent traveler who has an archive of travel stories catapulted with culture shock moments, I’d say that an open mind and a good attitude is really important to really get an appreciation of the similarities and differences all around the world you live in.

So, here is my list of 6 different tips to consider when your are exposed to a different culture:

Try To Know As Much As You Can About New Surroundings

It’s natural to have difficulty adjusting to new cultures, especially because you are going find lot of differences between yours and others’. They probably have grown up with values and beliefs which are significantly different from yours. Because of these differences, the things they talk about, the ways they express themselves, and the importance of various ideas may be very different from what you are used to. But don’t be scared because you should turn this into a positive experience, think of it as a good time to learn more about the culture (their tastes, religion or the way that they usually behave or do things) , thats is what will make your adventure a great one.

Be Flexible and Adaptable and Keep an Open Mind

Engaging in the local activities will give you great insight into how the culture works and why people act the way they do. It also gives you more opportunities to make new friends. Remember to keep an open your mind, and there are some interesting ways to do that,such as: attending  local festival, various food markets or do a bit of sightseeing because it could help you to understand a little more about the culture and it could even be a great opportunity to make new local friends. My advice? Be flexible, that could help you to adapt to new situations.

Share Your Interests

Be friendly and above all, willing to share your interests when meeting people. Who knows? Maybe you have more things in common than you thought. When you go to a new place, such as a new country or even a new city, you often enter a culture that is different from the one you left. Sometimes your culture and the new culture are similar, other times, they can be very different, and even contradictory, but if you’re not willing to share your interests, how will you ever know? Don’t be shy and remember to be free-spirited, because with this attitude, I’m sure that  you will find someone with the same interests, humour, views on life as you.

Try To Enjoy the Culture

The differences between cultures can be very big sometimes.   You may encounter unfamiliar clothes, weather, and food as well as different people, schools, and values.  But don’t be afraid and take this as an advantage to know the culture. I’ll let you in on a little secret Don’t shy away from interacting with new people and making new contacts, remember that in a different country, no one knows you, therefore you can be pretty much anyone you want to be…even someone you have always wanted to be. Keep your mind open and try to enjoy these small little things (food, people, language, sightseeing, etc) that are foreign to you. Take all experiences, be it good or bad, with  a good spirit and consider it as a great learning opportunity.

Integrate and make new friends

Making new friends is a great way to get closer to your new host country and culture. It’s OK to make friends with other expats, but don’t forget that having local friends is important too. Making local friends is an important way to begin to understand the new culture in a meaningful way. Once you’ve begun making friends, it’s a great idea to invite them to your home and cook your favorite foods. Often, it’s as much fun for them to learn as it is for you.

Study and Practice a New Language

Of course this is the big advantage of living in a new place! Whether you’re experienced in the language of the country you travel to or not, learn some phrases in the local dialect and use them to interact and connect with the locals.  And if you have time and you want to learn a new language, its the perfect opportunity to meet local people and start practicing with them. You know how important it is to have a few key phrases in different languages when you travel the world, so don’t miss the opportunity and try to learn as much as you can.

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