Feeling Like a Little Fish in a Big Pond? How to Battle Culture Shock!
August 13, 2019
You are thriving in your new job, you’ve finally cracked the public transport system and you can even make small talk with the lady in the supermarket...but something feels off? The disorientation that can come with finding yourself in a completely new environment is known as culture shock, and can creep up on the best of us at some point.
You may struggle to believe that culture shock will affect you - you love your new city right?! However, culture shock has nothing to do with how well adapted or independent you are, but is instead the feeling that can come with unfamiliarity of customs and attitudes as you begin to notice all the little things that are done differently in your new home compared to your old one, leading to you feeling out of your depth.
But fear not! Culture shock is completely normal, and there are so many ways to neutralise the feeling of being a fish out of water and soon be living life like a native again!
Embrace how you’re feeling! Everyone is bound to feel overwhelmed at some point when moving to a new country, and it hits us all in different ways. Acknowledge how you are feeling, and allow yourself time to adjust to your new surroundings...if you feel out of your depth, don’t go jumping in the deep end even more! Dip a toe in the water first - you will feel settled and ready to dive in soon enough!
Talk to people! Your flatmates, your colleagues, the bus driver...chatting to anyone and everyone will not only keep you sane, but could open up new friendships that will help you feel more settled in your new environment. Chatting away can also help bridge the gap you may be feeling due to cultural differences with your neighbours, and help you realise that you are not as different as you may initially feel. What’s more, your friends and family back home are probably dying to hear how you are getting on with your adventure, so if you feel like hearing a familiar accent, they can always lend their voices on the phone!
Keep an open mind! The upside to culture shock is the fact that it is a reminder that you have the amazing opportunity to immerse yourself in a new culture! Soon enough you may be back home, so remember to make the most of the differences and enjoy the experience...before you know it you could be missing the things that you were apprehensive about to begin with! Living and working gives you an amazing insight into the fascinating culture of wherever you find yourself, so eat all the weird food, visit all the monuments and connect with the locals - you’ll regret it if you don’t!
Find something to connect you to home. You could hunt out a restaurant that serves your favourite meal or go watch a film in your native language...whatever reminds you that homely comforts aren’t that far away is sure to boost your mood! Knowing that you still have access to the little things that you are familiar with will help you realise that although your old home may feel a world away, there is in fact a little part of it in your new one!
Learn the lingo! Although you probably downloaded all the language apps with good intentions before you jetted off, it is possible you never got past ‘hola’ meaning it can be a shock and feel slightly alienating to be surrounded by voices you don’t understand. Learning basic phrases can help get you through the day, and the locals will definitely appreciate that you made an effort!
Don’t be disheartened if you experience culture shock, and definitely don’t take it as a sign that your new home isn’t for you! By following the suggestions mentioned you are sure to be back on track with enjoying your new adventure in no time!