What is Culture Shock?

Going abroad without culture shock

tips & tricks

October 15, 2021

Traveling abroad is an exciting experience that allows an individual to broaden their world view, meet new people, and learn new things. In order to reap the many benefits of an authentic experience abroad, travelers must be exposed to new places, situations, and cultures.

Although experiencing a new way of life in another country is extremely fun, it is common for some travelers to feel a little out of place from time to time. Whether an individual is a well-seasoned traveler or embarking on their first international adventure, adjusting to a new environment is sometimes difficult.

Most people have heard of the term “culture shock”, but what is it exactly? Culture shock is the feeling of disorientation that a person experiences when they are suddenly exposed to a cultural environment that is different than their own. This new environment may be made up of customs, behaviors, and languages that are quite different than what a traveler is accustomed to in their own country. When someone is experiencing culture shock, they may feel a bit lost, lonely, or frustrated. The amount of culture shock experienced often varies from person to person, and its effects can be felt at different times during a trip.

To help you combat some of the culture shock that you may experience while participating in one of our programs abroad, our team will do the best we can to help you acclimate to your new cultural environment. We give all our program participants a country handbook with information to help familiarize them with the area they will be staying.We also send all participants an intercultural guide, which addresses topics such as cultural values, intercultural communication and the "Do's and Don'ts".

Although culture shock may occur during your journey abroad, you don’t have to let it take away from your amazing adventure! Culture shock is simply a part of traveling, just like meeting new people, trying authentic cuisine, or learning the language of the locals. Even though there is no “quick fix” when feeling the effects of the shock, reminding yourself that it is temporary and completely normal helps immensely. It also is important to keep in mind that you will have the most enriching experiences abroad while you are outside of your comfort zone, so don’t be afraid to embrace the unfamiliar environment!

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