Oxford Dictionary defines CULTURE SHOCK as disorientation experienced when suddenly subjected to an unfamiliar culture or way of life.
'Culture Shock' can be simply defined as an experience that a person may have to face once he/she moves to a new cultural environment which is absolute different from one's own. As one steps out of the comfort zone, it generates a feeling of disorientation, confusion, unfamiliarity etc., which often leads to lack of confidence and anxiety. However, it's nothing to worry - and can be tackled mindfully.
Experts have suggested that there are four stages of culture shock:
- Initial euphoria
- Irritability and hostility
- Gradual adjustment
It is like that almost everyone moving out of his/her own environment/ country, experiences culture shock to some degree. It can be frustrating and confusing in the beginning, but with time, everyone learns to adjust and sinks in the situation.
There are certain steps that can be taken to minimize the impact of culture shock:
1. Realize that this is something absolutely normal and you will easily live through it. There’s no reason to get anxious or feel depressed!
2. Try to think less about home and mingle more with the people around you. The more homesick you feel, the more difficult it’ll be for you to get over the culture shock.
3. Talk to the shopkeepers, local transport drivers, as well as other travelers who have been in that destination for longer.
4. You must be positive, have a sense of humor to deal with situations and be polite towards everyone, even if you don't understand what they're trying to convey.
5. Always be open-minded and ready to learn. You will come to realize that there are different ways to do things and it's okay if someone isn't doing it your way.
6. Research about your new culture and try to find out how you can cope up with the differences. Try to make a note of the things you learn. It’ll be easier that way for you to remember.
7. Make an effort to learn the local language. It’s the best way to strike a communication with the people of the country. You don’t have to be a pro in it - just try to pick up some commonly used words and gestures of greetings - which will be helpful enough!
8. Look for logical reasons for behaviors in the new culture that you may find strange. With a little analysis, you may find that these different behaviors don’t seem so strange after all. And no gesture is meant to hurt you.
9. Above all, flexibility, compassion, and open-mindedness will be your most valuable traits. These would essentially be the key qualities that'll lead you towards adjusting to a new environment.