16 October 2014

What is the culture shock and how to deal with it?

Did you just move to a new country and you're experiencing all sorts of fluctuating emotions regarding your new living environment?
You needn't worry, GEYC knows what you have. 
It's called culture shock and these are just a few general information to help you in the adjustment process.

 So, you just moved to a new country, doing an Erasmus + mobility or for any other reason, and everything is new and exciting, you're seeing new places, you're meeting new people, you're tasting new food, heck, you're probably even breathing new air. 
You're walking down the street trying to catch every glimpse of this new reality and you probably hit a few poles being too busy starring at windows or buildings while trying to walk straight.

But one morning it hits you: everything is so overwhelming, you don't understand the social system, people have these tendencies of acting completely different than your friends and basically everything seems upside down and all you want to do is crawl back into your bed and have your mom cook you some of her delicious soup.

I get it. I've been there. I've been there more times than I can remember, because when you are a pathological traveler, such as myself, the idea of being in one place for too long gives you an itchy feeling in your feet and an almost unbearable craving in your body and mind to see all the places that you haven't seen yet.

It's okay. What you have actually has a name. It's called culture shock and it basically translates into all the things that you are feeling and the disorientation connected to the unfamiliar way of life that you are experiencing.

Culture shock consists of at least one of four distinct phases: 

1. Honeymoon -  when everything you see is awesome and incredible and you can't stop being amazed about the wonders of this new place.

2. Negotiation - that is basically the phase in which you start realizing the differences between your ways of doing things and those of the people in the new society. No matter if we're talking about language barriers or the way people tie their shoes, you might get frustrated and even anxious regarding everything around you.

3. Adjustment - you get here after living in that new society for a while, after realizing that social norms are not this huge vacuum and that you are actually focusing more on your daily routine than on specific differences between you and them.

 4. Mastery - if you managed to get to this point, it means you feel comfortable in your environment. Adjusting to your host culture doesn't mean, though, that you were fully converted to it, people often tend to keep traits of their own culture while mixing them with new ones from the host culture. Also referred too as biculturalism.

Now, if you have experienced all of these things or just some of them, (it's different for every person), just keep in mind that every new traveling expeience is a possibility to grow as a person and increase your knowledge regarding other cultures and societies.

 It might get frustrating, but hang in there, at the end of the day, you'll treasure so much more the experiences though which you learned more things about yourself.