3 Tips for Dealing with Culture Shock
Posted by admin in on March 13, 2017..
By WSA intern Emily Rose
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By this point you have probably heard all about culture shock and the stages that you’re likely to go through as part of your study abroad experience. The truth is that everyone experiences culture shock differently and there is no special spell that can get rid of the culture shock that you are going to feel. This past year I have studied abroad in two different countries and gone through culture shock not once, but twice...and let me tell you it can absolutely suck. But lucky for you I have picked up a couple tips and tricks that have helped me. Here are the three things that have helped me the most!
Let go of what you think the culture will be like: This one can be a toughie. Before you even get to your study abroad city you will most likely have a picture of what the whole experience will be like; how the food will taste, how banging the clubs will be, how much weight you’ll gain from eating enough gelato to feed a small village for two years and how much walking you’ll have to do to work off that gelato (did someone say gelato?). The trouble with pre-planning how you think the country will be can actually make transitioning and acclimating to the new culture a lot harder because the culture and people will most likely end up being nothing like you thought they would be.
Do not isolate yourself: The worst possible thing that you can do when dealing with culture shock is to isolate yourself from the people and culture all together. Don’t go out to eat at the pizza restaurant that only speaks English and then go back home and binge watch all of Stranger Things--even if that does sound like the best idea you’ve ever had (trust me, it’s not). Go out and try the food that is specific to the country and really start to challenge yourself and your beliefs. If you just stay home all the time then you will never be able to fully grasp this new culture and all of the amazing things that it has to offer. WSA trips are also a great way to meet new people and build long lasting friendships, and help you break out of your comfort zone.
Do not spend all of your free time on social media: One of the worst parts about Culture Shock is that the FOMO (the Fear Of Missing Out) from back home is very real. You’ll find yourself scrolling through Instagram seeing what all your friends are doing back home without you and you’ll immediately wonder what all you’re missing out on. Also try and give a heads up to your parents to not post so many photos of your beloved dog/cat/pet gecko on Facebook while you’re away. That’s the worst.
Hopefully these tips help you out while you adjust to your new surroundings. Remember that you are not the only person going through culture shock and that it is perfectly normal! It just takes a little time and then before you know it you’ll feel right at home!
I had an absolutely amazing time on my WSA trip to Krakow, Poland. I felt like a got a lot out of my money and it was so nice not to have to worry about anything because WSA takes care of it all. Our guide was absolutely fantastic and was there with us for everything we needed-it was great to have someone around with you who knew the city so well. This is definitely a trip I will never forget. I already want to start planning my next WSA trip. What amazing destination to pick next is the hard part!Alison Wendler, Universsity of Washington ~ National University of Ireland, Galway, Spring 2016
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