International mobility is growing. We are increasingly likely to go abroad for a longer period of time (for education, for work, for family reasons) for different projects and programs. From trip to trip, one thing is certain – we cannot avoid the process of adaptation to the new surroundings, which is often called “culture shock”.
Preparing for a trip abroad is often very enthusiastic and exciting. You are full of energy to complete all the formalities and to count the days and the hours till the start of it. When you reach your destination, everything definitely looks ideal! New surroundings, new people, new cuisine – a real honeymoon! Yet sooner or later, there is a moment when you lose this comfort. First problems appear, small misunderstandings, or situations you were not prepared for. Disappointments with the reality cause that you start missing what you had before. You need your friends, food, activities…
When the crisis comes
Firstly – do not panic! Your negative emotions are absolutely normal. Only after a period of time spent abroad will you start to get to know the culture and as a result, feel successful among the cultural differences. Sorrow, longing, irritation are commonly experienced by the majority of those who go abroad for a long time. The key to overcome it is the awareness of the reasons and aspects that are common to unpleasant situations you face every day.
Everything depends on you!
There is no universal solution for everybody to overcome culture shock. It depends only on you and how you cope with problems. Try to think about the obstacles objectively. If it is hard for you to find your own way to fight the crisis, ask more experienced people for advice and support. Neither anger nor withdrawal will help you! Try to relax and find new partners to talk to and spend free time with. Do not be afraid to act!
It is not easy to build a new reality, but if you get through the period of crisis, it will soon turn out that being an expat means also a lot of benefits and joy!
Relocation trainings are very useful for minimizing the consequences of a culture shock. They allow the participants to prepare properly for the time abroad. With help of an experienced coach, you get support and knowledge about culture differences that you may face during your stay.
More about relocation trainings in an interview with Radek Walentynowicz – we highly recommend it!
*The article based on the video4edu material “to overcome a culture shock”, presented by Monika Chutnik.