How to Overcome Culture Shock While Abroad

Nighttime Traffic (courtesy of Unsplash)

Nighttime Traffic (courtesy of Unsplash)

Culture shock can be crippling to your trip while abroad. This is a psychological problem that is typified with an anxious, tense, & nervous feeling. These feelings primarily arise when you arrive at a new location and are immediately thrown into the throes of another culture. However, having experienced this personally, I’ll provide a brief guide for how to overcome culture shock.

  1. Learn a couple phrases of the local language. Just starting with hello, please, and thank you will go a long way when ordering items from a restaurant, shopping in a market, and more.
  2. Get outside and walk around or exercise. Even if it is just a breath of fresh air or sunlight, it will go a long way to helping you overcome your culture shock. Map out a route to jog and get out there and do it- this will help release positive hormones and make you feel much better.
  3. Socialize with other people. Whether you join a group or another community group, getting involved with others will help you adjust rather than just keeping to yourself.
  4. Connect with people from back home. Skype or Google hangout with friends and family from back home. You could also talk to them about how you are adjusting to a new lifestyle.
  5. Talk to someone else about it and what they have done to overcome it. Similar to the point above, finding someone else to talk to will help you rationalize your fears & overcome them.
  6. Learn more about the culture and how it contributes to everyday life. This will give you a deeper understanding and respect for the new location you are in. Taking a free tour of the city will also help understand from a historical perspective how the city grew.
  7. Be patient. This primarily is geared towards people spending an excess amount of time in a foreign country (>1 week). Although you may try all the suggestions above, sometimes it will just take a little bit of time for you to get used to your new surroundings. Just remember that culture shock is only a temporary feeling and will soon fade away.

Have any tips of your own? We’d love to hear them in the comments below!


Life-Long Learner, Explorer, & Web Developer. Currently a Software Engineer at Jazz.

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