Dealing With Culture Shock


Pushpinder Bhatia
Alumni Said Business School, University of Oxford, UK

Dealing With Culture Shock

The well-made decision to study abroad has been accomplished. The excitement to start anew is full on. Overseas Education or staying back in another country undoubtedly means tropical weather, foreign foods and vibrant colors. The idea of life outside of their own country is one filled with mystery and excitement, especially for those people who are inborn with cultural curiosity.

However, in spite of all the positive and bright sides of studying abroad, life outside one’s own country isn’t all bed of roses. It has its pros and cons and it is advised to be prepared for both so that your stay in abroad is both enjoyable and worthwhile. It is important to be aware of the customs, etiquette, and laws of the country before making a huge move of studying abroad. Along with these important points that you need to be careful about another phenomenon that you are surely to face while your stay in abroad is that of CULTURE SHOCK. The term Culture shock is a psychological condition which cannot be avoided by even the gutsiest of adventurers. While some students will only experience mild cases of culture shock, a vast majority will go through a whole range of emotions that could become a big problem for you if left untreated.

Let us understand what exactly culture shock is. Basically, it is your adjustment to your new surroundings and new way of doing things. For example, you may find that things are done in a totally different way than the way it is done in your home country. The change in experiences can lead to things like depression, sadness etc. Most people agree on few phases which they go through as a result of Culture Shock. The Excitement Phase can be put in the first place. Herein you will feel enchanted by your new surroundings. You end up admiring, gasping and wondering anything and everything that you see, you will find yourself frequently saying to yourself - such lovely place; such hot weather, such friendly and smiling faces. The next is The Frustration phase, wherein you slowly learn and get accustomed with the new and changed surroundings, you begin to feel a bit out of place and the lack of like-minded people may start to make you feel frustrated. You realize how things are different in your home country. You find yourself rejecting and questioning certain things as you are not well accustomed to it, nor you are readily accepting them the way it is. Suddenly, you find yourself missing family, friends, home –cooked food, favorite hangouts, etc. The Adaption Phase sneaks in as soon as you come nearer to the end of the frustration phase, because you feel the need to gel in with the new environment. You slowly learn to adapt and adjust with your new life, although you are not 100% comfortable with certain aspects of the culture, you may still be committing some cultural faux-pas, but gradually, you will start to feel content with your new and different life. This phase can be combined with The Acceptance Phase as you finally reach a point where you feel like home and no longer feel alienated. The customs no longer feel odd, you are ready to accept the things the way they are and are feeling much more relaxed and secure.

It is important to talk to your friends and family on a regular basis. This will give you some valuable guidance and assistance to the best of their abilities. Don’t let Culture Shock and the transition period scare you from taking a leap as life-changing as this one. Keeping an open mind will help you in facing the difficulties and overcoming the challenges in an easier manner. Keep reminding yourself that things in this strange land will make sense if you just give yourself a little time.

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