How to overcome culture shock

How to overcome culture shock

Experiencing culture shock can be challenging when trying to settle into your Erasmus+ or Turing Scheme destination. Culture shock is also connected with homesickness and that’s not what we want you to experience during your Erasmus+ or Turing Scheme stay because it can downgrade your unique chance to live in a foreign country and have the best time of your life! Culture shock is characterised by 4 steps that we explained to you in our blog: What is Culture Shock?

We want to help you to overcome the culture shock fast, so that you can enjoy your Erasmus+ or Turing Scheme mobility to the fullest and don’t have to worry about any mixed feelings.

Language Barrier

Culture shock might kick in when communication fails. It can be very challenging to talk to people when you know only a little or no vocabulary. You want to make friends and get to know new people, but possibly, you don’t know how to say certain words. This can be very frustrating, but don’t give up, after some time you will become more comfortable with the language. Practice is the key when learning a new language.

To bypass this obstacle, we advise you to start learning the new language before leaving your hometown. This can be done through certain online tools or by doing a language course. Alternatively you can also do A Language Course During your Erasmus+ or Turing Scheme Internship . Perhaps you can also find someone who can speak language or who’s a native, so that you can practice a bit before you go?

Talk to Your Family About the Differences

Sometimes talking about certain things you recognise as “different” can help a lot when dealing with a new place. Maybe your family at home can calm you down a bit and explain that your feelings are totally normal. Especially if your Erasmus+ or Turing Scheme internships last for a long period, it is advisable to still stay in touch with your family and friends at home. They can help you avoid overreacting with certain issues and push your self-confidence considerably, helping to relive stress.

Meet Locals

Getting to know the locals at your Erasmus+ or Turing Scheme destination can help you to gain better insight into the culture. Consciously try new things at your Erasmus+ or Turing Scheme destination in order to become familiar with the culture. Your new friends can guide you and show you some specialities of the country or even new cuisine. You can also share your own traditions with them, for example arrange an international dinner, where each nation cooks something popular from their home country.

Try to watch the body language of locals carefully in order to better understand them. Sometimes frustration appears when we don’t understand the behaviour of others. Even when there are traditions that you do not fully understand and support, you should still respect them.

Write a Diary

Write down all your experiences from the very start of your Erasmus+ or Turing Scheme mobility. Note your positive as well as negative feelings. This can also be an important step to overcome culture shock. After your Erasmus+ or Turing Scheme stay you can read through your diary and maybe you won’t know why you overreacted or had negative feelings because things slotted into place for you so they stopped being shocking!

Take a Deep Breath

Sometimes being patient pays off, especially when it has to do with accepting new foreign cultures. Allow yourself some time to reflect on the situation. There is a reason why you are doing your Erasmus+ or Turing Scheme internship – you want to gain international experience and broaden your horizon – keep those goals in mind. Culture shock usually occurs when you experience something negative or shocking. Reflecting on the negative and positive feelings can help you overcome culture shock and better understand the conflict or adaption problem.

Think Positive

Positivity is the key to success when trying to overcome culture shock. Hating everything at your Erasmus+ or Turing Scheme destination will most likely not be beneficial for settling in. Consciously finding positive things that make you happy will help you to fall in love with your new home. It could be a special place that you like to visit, or maybe a mall with your favourite shops, or the best pizza place where you enjoy hanging out with your friends.

Keep in mind that your Erasmus+ or Turing Scheme mobility is a really unique opportunity that you can benefit from throughout your whole life. It shapes your professional career as well as your personality.

Overcoming culture shock is a process, that usually everybody at a new destination experiences, especially if it is the First Time Living Away from your Home Country . So, it is normal to feel uncomfortable at some stage, what is important is that you try your best to eliminate the negative feelings and start enjoying your Erasmus+ or Turing Scheme stay.

If you have already experienced culture shock, feel free to share your story in the comments below. Maybe your words could be useful for people feeling the same right now!

Adapting to Canada may be challenging, but it can also help you expand your horizons by learning something new. You may be surprised to discover that you have abilities and characteristics you didn’t realize you possessed.

If you’re still hesitant of immigrating to Canada because of the adaptation process, don’t fret! We’re here to give you a better idea of what you and your loved ones may expect throughout the process.

Table of Contents

The 4 Stages of Cultural Adjustment

🇨🇦 Stage 1: Honeymoon Phase

The initial stage of culture shock is quite favorable. Travelers get captivated with their new surroundings while they fall in love with the local language, culture, and cuisine. At this point, going on the trip or moving feels like the best choice you’ve ever made, as well as an exciting new experience.

When visiting Canada for just a short period of time, the honeymoon phase may take over the whole experience since culture shock has not yet had a chance to set in. In the course of longer stays such as relocation, the honeymoon period will quickly come to an end.

🇨🇦 Stage 2: Disenchantment Phase

It’s common for those who have lived overseas or often travel to experience disenchantment, which is often the most painful stage of culture shock. At this point, the frustration of not comprehending gestures, signs, and the language has set in, and misunderstandings may occur.

Everything from misplacing a key to failing to locating transportation to having difficulty ordering takeout may lead to frustration. Depression comes and goes, but it’s a normal response for foreigners who stay in a new country for an extended period.

During the disenchantment stage, it’s normal to feel down or homesick.

🇨🇦 Stage 3: Gradual Recovery Phase

Problems tend to fade once you become used to the people, foods, customs, and languages of a new place. Friends and support networks are formed, making adjustment easier.

If you’re still having trouble adapting, keep working on learning the language and eventually, you’ll get there!

🇨🇦 Stage 4: Acceptance Phase

While it may take weeks, months, or even years after dealing with the many phases of culture shock, the ultimate step is acceptance. Acceptance does not imply a complete understanding of new cultures and surroundings.

Instead, it means that you don’t have to comprehend the new environment to operate and flourish there sufficiently. In the acceptance stage, foreigners may gather the resources they need to feel comfortable with their situation.

How to overcome culture shock

Common Canadian Immigrant Challenges

Newcomers to Canada face many challenges. These difficulties include dealing with employers that aren’t acquainted with foreign job experience and qualifications, adjusting to Canadian culture, and coping with prejudice and language obstacles.

The following are five common challenges encountered by new Canadian immigrants that you should be aware of:

Learning a new language is notoriously challenging for foreigners, and it’s no different when moving to another country. Every element of our life changes when we encounter other people, regardless of whether or not we can communicate.

Knowing the official Canadian language is essential for everything from landing a job to enrolling in school to just navigating about town or doing your grocery shopping.

The cost of living in Canada will differ from what newcomers are used to in their home country. They may have to accept a lower-paying position while learning new skills or gaining experience in Canada.

Therefore, you should be aware of the possibility of your financial situation altering. While your income may be more significant in Canada than it was back home, the cost of living there may be more than you’re accustomed to.

In addition to their unique knowledge and abilities, immigrants contribute significantly to the Canadian economy. However, despite their high levels of education and hard work, many immigrants encounter difficulties in beginning and developing their professions in their new nation.

The majority of these difficulties arise because immigrants are frequently unaware of the differences between the work environment in their home countries and the workplace culture in Canada, particularly regarding communication, responsibility allocation, feedback, networking, and other factors.

Adapting to healthcare is difficult for newcomers in Canada because of a variety of reasons, such as difficulty navigating the Canadian health care system, lack of knowledge of the country’s health care system, and cultural and gender-based concerns.

Newcomers with little financial resources are more likely to live in cheap housing, poor conditions, or neighbourhoods with high poverty or violence rates. Children of immigrants who live in poor housing may also be exposed to gangs, drugs, and violence because of poor living environments.

How to overcome culture shock

The day you land up in your new study abroad destination, you’re all busy in understanding and enjoying the newness around you. You’re smiling at the vendors, charmed by the sudden openness of the people around you. Or perhaps you’re noticing a discreet isolation of genders, ages, or confused by why your host mother shies away from some of your questions, yes this is called culture shock.

What is Culture Shock?

When you study abroad, your d a ily routine, the attitude of people and culture are no longer familiar. This procedure of understanding, recognizing and adapting to these changes is called culture shock. In a new country, we become more aware of these cultural offerings because they are different from our usual rules. There are four stages of culture shock:

Initial Ecstasy–For initial few days, you’ll likely enjoy all the wonderful things your new chosen home has to offer at this stage, you’ll recognize cultural similarities and be enchanted by the differences.

The Negotiation Stage–Very soon, the euphoria stage will go away. You will go crazy at all apparent “disorganization” of stuff around you. You’ll become overwhelmed with all the things you may have to adjust with, you either feel irritated or forced to make things go “your way”.

Adjustment Stage–Few days or maybe a few weeks (for few students), comes the stage where you start getting adjusted to the surroundings and finally are able to relax. You’ve achieved a balance of emotions. And, now instead of feeling annoyed and frustrated, you’re learning to understand the differences. You’ll soon be more positive about everything around you and interested in learning more about your host country, and make more effort to fit in.

The Mastery Stage–Finally, you reach a high level of comfort in your new surroundings and this is the final stage of culture shock. The order, in which all events and things take place, makes quite a sense, you can talk to strangers with much ease, and you go smoothly with cultural nuances. Your routine is more stable and regular. For sure, you still miss your family, loved ones and old friends, but your new life is full of excitement, new friends, and all-new activities, that makes life much more valuable and justifies all your sacrifices.

Quick tips to deal with Culture Shock

  1. Read as much as you can about your host country through novels, guidebooks and travel forums.
  2. Ask study abroad mentors for advice and what’s best for you as per your profile.
  3. Make sure that you set your learning goals for your overseas education.
  4. At your initial or Euphoria stage, pen down what you love when you first arrive, and look back later, when you’re feeling irritated, go through this list to remind yourself of all the good things about your new home, instead of the things that annoy you.
  5. Look for a healthy distraction. Spend some time on your favorite TV show, cook a meal from home, or have a dance party in your house.
  6. Talk to other students who are studying abroad with you, about how you feel. Ask them about the strategies they’ve used to cope with cultural differences.
  7. Push yourself to make local friends, you’ll learn from them as they are experts in their own culture and will be able to answer all the crazy questions you have.
  8. Get involved with the local community as most of your feelings of culture shock may be because you feel like too much of an outsider. Say, if you went to church at home, go to church there as well.
  9. Even if your program is being taught in English, make an effort to learn the local language. It helps you to understand more about the culture and helps make friends feel more included.

Many students choose to study abroad with the mind-set that it’s about weekend getaways and late-night parties, but it’s much more and bigger than that. It’s a challenge, beginning of a new culture, and an emotional roller coaster sometimes. However, once you’ve accomplished your goals and come back home, you’ll forget about all the things that irritated you and only treasure the memories you made.

Culture shock is an experience a person may have when one moves to a cultural environment which is different from one’s own; it is also the personal disorientation a person may feel when experiencing an unfamiliar way of life due to immigration or a visit to a new country, a move between social environments, or simply transition to another type of life. [1] One of the most common causes of culture shock involves individuals in a foreign environment. Culture shock can be described as consisting of at least one of four distinct phases: honeymoon, frustration, adjustment, and mastery.

Common problems include: information overload, language barrier, generation gap, technology gap, skill interdependence, formulation dependency, homesickness (cultural), infinite regress (homesickness), boredom (job dependency), response ability (cultural skill set). [2] There is no true way to entirely prevent culture shock, as individuals in any society are personally affected by cultural contrasts differently. [3]

Four phases


During this period, the differences between the old and new culture are seen in a romantic light. For example, in moving to a new country, an individual might love the new food, the pace of life, and the locals’ habits. During the first few weeks, most people are fascinated by the new culture. They associate with nationals who speak their language, and who are polite to the foreigners. Like most honeymoon periods, this stage eventually ends. [4]


After some time (usually around three months, depending on the individual), differences between the old and new culture become apparent and may create anxiety. Excitement may eventually give way to unpleasant feelings of frustration and anger as one continues to experience unfavorable events that may be perceived as strange and offensive to one’s cultural attitude. Language barriers, stark differences in public hygiene, traffic safety, food accessibility and quality may heighten the sense of disconnection from the surroundings. [5]

While being transferred into a different environment puts special pressure on communication skills, there are practical difficulties to overcome, such as circadian rhythm disruption that often leads to insomnia and daylight drowsiness; adaptation of gut flora to different bacteria levels and concentrations in food and water; difficulty in seeking treatment for illness, as medicines may have different names from the native country’s and the same active ingredients might be hard to recognize.

Still, the most important change in the period is communication: People adjusting to a new culture often feel lonely and homesick because they are not yet used to the new environment and meet people with whom they are not familiar every day. The language barrier may become a major obstacle in creating new relationships: special attention must be paid to one’s and others’ culture-specific body language signs, linguistic faux pas, conversation tone, linguistic nuances and customs, and false friends.

In the case of students studying abroad, some develop additional symptoms of loneliness that ultimately affect their lifestyles as a whole. Due to the strain of living in a different country without parental support, international students often feel anxious and feel more pressure while adjusting to new cultures—even more so when the cultural distances are wide, as patterns of logic and speech are different and a special emphasis is put on rhetoric.


Again, after some time (usually 6 to 12 months), one grows accustomed to the new culture and develops routines. One knows what to expect in most situations and the host country no longer feels all that new. One becomes concerned with basic living again, and things become more “normal”. One starts to develop problem-solving skills for dealing with the culture and begins to accept the culture’s ways with a positive attitude. The culture begins to make sense, and negative reactions and responses to the culture are reduced. [ citation needed ]


In the mastery stage individuals are able to participate fully and comfortably in the host culture. Mastery does not mean total conversion; people often keep many traits from their earlier culture, such as accents and languages. It is often referred to as the bicultural stage.

Reverse culture shock

Reverse culture shock (a.k.a. “re-entry shock” or “own culture shock” [6] ) may take place — returning to one’s home culture after growing accustomed to a new one can produce the same effects as described above. These are results from the psychosomatic and psychological consequences of the readjustment process to the primary culture. [7] The affected person often finds this more surprising and difficult to deal with than the original culture shock. This phenomenon, the reactions that members of the re-entered culture exhibit toward the re-entrant, and the inevitability of the two are encapsulated in the following saying, which is also the title of a book by Thomas Wolfe, You Can’t Go Home Again.

Reverse culture shock is generally made up of two parts: idealization and expectations. When an extended period of time is spent abroad we focus on the good from our past, cut out the bad, and create an idealized version of the past. Secondly, once removed from our familiar setting and placed in a foreign one we incorrectly assume that our previous world has not changed. We expect things to remain exactly the same as when we left them. The realization that life back home is now different, that the world has continued without us, and the process of readjusting to these new conditions as well as actualizing our new perceptions about the world with our old way of living causes discomfort and psychological anguish. [8]


There are three basic outcomes of the Adjustment Phase: [9]

  • Some people find it impossible to accept the foreign culture and to integrate. They isolate themselves from the host country’s environment, which they come to perceive as hostile, withdraw into a “ghetto” and see return to their own culture as the only way out. These “Rejectors” also have the greatest problems re-integrating back home after return. [10]
  • Some people integrate fully and take on all parts of the host culture while losing their original identity. This is called cultural assimilation. They normally remain in the host country forever. This group is sometimes known as “Adopters” and describes approximately 10% of expatriates.
  • Some people manage to adapt to the aspects of the host culture they see as positive, while keeping some of their own and creating their unique blend. They have no major problems returning home or relocating elsewhere. This group can be thought to be somewhat cosmopolitan. Approximately 30% of expats belong to this group. [ citation needed ]

Culture shock has many different effects, time spans, and degrees of severity. [11] Many people are handicapped by its presence and do not recognize what is bothering them. [ citation needed ]

Transition shock

Culture shock is a subcategory of a more universal construct called transition shock. Transition shock is a state of loss and disorientation predicated by a change in one’s familiar environment that requires adjustment. There are many symptoms of transition shock, including:

How to overcome culture shock

One of the biggest roadblocks for new employees transitioning to new workplaces is culture shock. Among other concerns, policies in the new business could be vastly different from what new hires are used to. In fact, new employees may even be moving to new cities or states at the same time that they are adjusting to new workplaces.

Mitigating this shock can boost your new employee’s morale and allow them to hit the ground running. And, as America’s workforce becomes more and more mobile, helping employees deal with culture shock becomes increasingly important.

Here are some ways to make your new hire feel right at home on their first day.

1. Implement an Ambassador

It can be daunting to walk through the door on your first day and see no familiar faces. Help a new hire acclimate by assigning them a company ambassador who will show them the ropes. The ambassador can act as a liaison between the new hire and other employees, introduce the new hire to coworkers, and work side-by-side with the new hire until they’re adjusted to the environment.

2. Host After-Work Rendezvous

New hires coming from out of town not only have to learn the ways of a new workplace, but also a new city. Help them out by organizing regular outings around town they can participate in. Group dinners are a great way to foster communication among your team members, or you could arrange sports outings where your crew meets at a local park for a game of softball. Not only are these events a great way for the team to get to know one another, but they make the new employee feel like their coworkers care about them.

3. Give Them a Lift

Rally employees who might be interested in carpooling to work and have them give the new employee a ride. This will help the new members of the team get to work on time each day without trying to navigate their new city, while also allowing the team to chat and get to know one another.

4. Lay Out the Lingo

How to overcome culture shock

Each business tends to have a certain set of phrases or sayings with which existing employees are familiar. New hires, however, may have a tough time learning their new office’s workplace vocabulary. Fill your employee in right off the bat about these special slang terms so they can join in the conversation without feeling left out. It might help to give new hires a cheat sheet during orientation so they can refer to it as they get used to the office.

5. Offer Group Volunteer Projects

Studies show that employers who allow their workers to volunteer during office hours have happier employees and better overall production rates. People like to know their efforts are going to a good cause. Set up group volunteer projects your new hire can be a part. Not only will these projects foster happiness at the new workplace, but they will also allow the new hire to spend time interacting with their coworkers.

6. Create a Welcoming Kit

This sounds a tad cheesy, but in the same way decorating can make a house feel more like a home, sprucing up an employee’s cubicle might make it feel more familiar and friendly to them. Implement a policy of giving welcoming kits to new employees. These kits could include fun trinkets like plants for their desk, photo frames, and silly calendars, along with more business-related items, like an employee roster with phone numbers and fun facts about their coworkers.

7. Set Daily Tasks Ahead of Time

Rather than allow a new employee to face the oncoming workflow without a plan, managers should set specific goals for each day for the employee’s first few weeks, and possibly the entire first month. Allowing new employees to waffle about when they start work disempowers them. Employees function better with clearly defined goals and tasks, and outlining exactly what is expected for new hires can allow them to focus on the tasks at hand, rather than worry about what might be coming next.

8. Bridge the Gap Through Mentorship

Studies show there’s a growing divide between the workplace expectations of older managers and younger workers. If this divide contributes to new employee’s culture shock, it needs to be counteracted. To do so, implement a system of mentorship between management and new employees. Have new hires work one-on-one with their management mentors to learn the ropes and expectations of the office. You can also use this mentorship to hear feedback from new hires about ways you could make their experiences there more inviting.

It’s good to get out of your comfort zone, as it helps you grow as a person and an employee. However, too much of a culture shock could lead to lower employee retention rates. Set up a system that helps minimize new-employee culture shock. By implementing a few simple programs, your may see your employees becoming more productive — and your new hires sticking around longer.

What is culture shock exactly? It is one trial most teachers go through when teaching English in Japan. Almost every English teacher experiences it in some form or another and some don't know they are even going through it. The severity, how long it lasts and how quickly you get through its phases depends on your personality and how you deal with change.

How to overcome culture shock

Culture Shock. "Oh Man Not Again!"

Nine out of ten teachers who go to Japan for their first time to teach English get to spend at least a little time in the bubble. What’s the bubble you ask? It’s the first phase of culture shock. It’s like Disney Land but bigger. It’s a feeling of happiness and wonder. It goes something like this.

So here is a story or a common thing we hear from site visitors that Is quite common and is one of the first phases you go through even before "what is culture shock" ? even pops into your head and it goes roughly something like this.

Everything is new and everything is sooo wonderful. They (meaning the Japanese) can do no wrong. They are all beautiful, friendly and have the best intentions for me. There are so many things to discover and life is exciting – Nothing can touch me- problems of home fade. The smells of Japanese cuisine, wet streets, freshly baked bread, fish markets. The sounds of shop owners yelling “irashaimase” … their incredible attention to detail…the way they present their goods for sale.

It’s so refreshingly different and exciting. It’s magical. You can’t wait to roll out of your futon, fire-up the kerosene heater and start the day. It may culminate in a “I want to stay here forever” mentality and many times extends to “I want to become one of them,” or at least “I want to speak just like them.”

This mindset is the bubble and the kick-off to the culture shock parade.
Considering for the lucky it can last 6 months or more, it’s a whole lot cheaper than vacationing 6 months in Hawaii. But alas, all good things must end. And it does.

Just like that certain day in your childhood when you suddenly realize, “I’m not a kid anymore,” so also in Japan this day comes. The laws of physics have a counterpart in the world of emotions. What goes up must come down. And so does the high. The bubble breaks and down we go.

What is Culture Shock? Dave Trippin Looks at Some aspects of it. Some of it might surprise you.

So what is culture shock? It depends on who you ask but psychologists say it is a "state of bewilderment and distress experienced by someone who's suddenly exposed to a new, strange or foreign social and cultural environment" and Japan definitely meets this criteria.

Culture Shock and The Next Phase

How you deal with this phase usually determines how long you stay in Japan. Some basic characteristics of this phase of culture shock are: loneliness, desire to return home, feelings of being overwhelmed or lost in the new culture and insecurity.

Wonder gets replaced with irritation. Blaming the new culture for problems you face instead of overcoming them becomes a focus. These are just a few of the symptoms of culture shock. Some also get physical symptoms and of course, not everyone experiences these problems.

Most personalize all this and fail to see what’s really happening. Which is, the mind is temporarily being overwhelmed by a sea of change. These feelings are the natural outcome of the mind as it grapples with and tries to solve the problem of integration and adjustment.

This also is the fork in the road and where the path divides. Usually 2 things happen. The teacher decides to “fix” the problem of integration by getting back on a jet or decides to “stick it out”.

What is Culture Shock? Phase 3

Those who don’t call Delta, experience phase 3. The mind, being one heck of a machine for solving problems, rapidly takes it in and begins the Herculean task of integrating all the newness of Japan. Instead of constantly feeling overwhelmed, the new teacher starts developing confidence and familiarity. Feelings of isolation get replaced as you build out your network and adjust to the fact that meeting new people is just done differently in Japan. The blaming Japan for everything under the sun starts to slow-down. The “Why can’t they be more like my countrymen?” gives way to an appreciation for Japan, and thoughts of life here long term and perhaps getting married in Japan with a Japanese citizen.

Which Group will you fit in?

When teachers head to the east to try their hand at teaching, inevitably some will stay for decades others just days. What separates these groups of teachers? Mostly a spirit of adventure that embraces change, tenacity, the desire to understand and appreciate something new and probably a little bit of luck.

Survival Tips for Dealing With Culture Shock

  • Realize that pointing fingers and blaming, depletes energy and wastes time. Way more here.
  • Develop your network of friends more. Have some beer with peers but not to the point of cutting yourself off with the Japanese community that surrounds you.

If a lot of your troubles are coming from the inability to speak Japanese, buckle down and study. Get some study partners lined-up where you exchange English for Japanese. Better yet start studying before you go. One of the fastest and cheapest ways to get started studying Japanese is with our site sponsors Japanese Pod 101. Tons of free pod casts, lessons and even seasonal themes like Christmas, Valentines day etc. Apps and sound files are also available.

And You can sign up with just your e-mail address. No credit card, no other crap required. Just click below to get started.

Do you Teach Overseas in Japan and Have a Story to Tell or Some Advice for Newbies?

Got some advice you'd like to share? Advice for newbies? Or Write about your experiences with an English school you're working for? Join in and write your own page for the world to see!

How to overcome culture shock

When we make a big move that requires us to adjust to a new environment, we can go through a roller coaster of emotions. When the new environment is a different country, that roller coaster has a more specific name: culture shock.

Culture shock starts with the excitement of being in a new country – the cornucopia of sights, sounds, and smells, and an ever-present “buzz” in the air. But when the “honeymoon stage” phases out, reality sets in. In my case, I started noticing the differences between what I was used to back in Kenya and what America had to offer. I remember my frustration when I first tried to activate my credit card. I called the customer care line after the automated machine instructions failed me. “My phone doesn’t have a ‘pound’ key,“ I complained. After several hours on the phone, the equally frustrated customer service representative walked me through my phone keypad to trace this mysterious key. I felt like a kid in kindergarten as we went through each key, until I got to the last one where I finally found the hash symbol (#), or what Americans call the pound key – the magic key I thought I didn’t have!

But the differences didn’t seem to end. I remember the shock I felt when I ordered “chicken and chips’’ at a fast food restaurant, only to be given a bag of “potato crisps‘’, or what Americans call “chips”. My intended order? Chicken and fries. Every day seemed to unfold more challenges. I even hung on tightly to “my” units of measurement: kilograms, Celsius degrees, etc. But I finally had to adopt pounds, ounces, miles, and Fahrenheit so that I could be understood in a day-to-day conversations.

In time, I have come to appreciate and love my new home in San Francisco. What is there not to love about this city? I have made friends, and I realize now that most people on campus have an accent (not just me!) – what matters most is being clear in how one communicates. Speaking of accents, a funny moment in class occurred when a professor attempting to confirm my classmate “Gracie” referred to her questioningly as “Crazy”?

In the past six months of my MBA program at Hult, I have learnt some big lessons on how to overcome culture shock. Here are some helpful tips:

  • Keep an open mind; do not automatically perceive something that is different as “wrong” or negative.
  • Guard against assuming or interpreting behavior from your own cultural perspective, or filter. For example, I used to wonder why everyone was so “superficially” friendly, until I learnt that Americans often use the phrase “How are you?” to mean “hello,” or “I am acknowledging your presence as I pass you in the hall.”
  • Spending a lot of time communicating with friends back home can exacerbate homesickness and delay the acculturation process. Instead, I urge you to get out of your comfort zone and make friends. Get to know your classmates by attending as many social events as you can – this helps with adjusting to a new environment, especially in the beginning.
  • Nurture new hobbies to build your network with people. For example, I never thought I’d visit museums, but on my visits I have unexpectedly connected with people in unlikely places.
  • When you come across things you do not like, write them down and then ask yourself: can I change them? If not, then you can find a way of living with them.
  • Above all, maintain your sense of humor! I have learnt that when I make a cultural gaffe or don’t know what to do in a social situation, and I laugh at myself, others laugh with me – not at me. This had led to some great exchanges on our experiences overcoming cultural challenges.

Do not let the culture shock of unfamiliar territories lock you in a cocoon of loneliness, boredom, frustration and negative emotions. Instead, choose to embrace change, laugh at your mistakes, and make new friends. You will find yourself learning and enjoying the journey. Before you know it, you will be so accustomed to your new environment that you will want to prevent time from flying so fast. And keep this inspiring quote in mind: “Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, she became a butterfly, from Barbara Haines Howett’s book, Ladies of the Borobudur.

I’d like to invite you to share your biggest cultural mishap and lessons learnt – please feel free to send your experiences my way.

Suzy Wanja is a passionate Hult Global Ambassador. She is from Kenya (home of safaris!), and was an Audit Manager in a Big 4 firm prior to starting her MBA @HultSF. She loves traveling and has visited Canada and over 13 states in U.S.A – and still counting!

To find out more about Hult’s global business program, download a brochure

Make the most of what your career has to offer with a Masters in International Business from Hult. To learn more, take a look at our blog From East to West: Reflections on immersing myself in new cultures at Hult, or give your employability a huge boost with an MBA in international business. Download a brochure or get in touch today to find out how Hult can help you to explore everything about the business world, the future, and yourself.

Describe the causes of culture shock. Culture shock Culture shock is basically defined as moving from a familiar culture to a one which are un familiar. Culture shock depends on factors such as how big the cultural difference is between your home and your new location, and how long one is away from home, you may or may not experience all the phases. There are many factors that cause culture shock like climate, food and language. One of the main reasons is climate….

Culture Shock

Culture shock can be described as the feelings one experiences after leaving their familiar, home culture to live in another cultural or social environment. Many people associate culture shock only with extreme changes of going from one country to another, but it can also be experienced closer to home, such as when traveling from one city to another within your own country. Even the most open-minded and culturally sensitive among us are not immune to culture shock.It is common to experience culture….

Culture Shock

Suddenly, new experiences seem stressful rather than stimulating, and delight turns into discomfort. This is the phenomenon known as culture shock. Culture shock is more than jet lag or homesickness, and it affects nearly everyone who enters a new culture – tourist, business travellers, diplomats, and student alike. Although not everyone experiences culture shock in exactly the same way, many experts agree that it has roughly five stages. In the first stage, you are excited by your new environment….

culture shock

Culture Shock Introductory Paragraph: Moving to different country can be an exciting, even exhilarating experience. In a new environment, you somehow feel more alive; seeing new sights, eating new food, hearing and foreign sounds of a new language and feeling a different skin against your skin stimulate your senses as never before. Soon, however, this sensory bombardment becomes sensory overload. Suddenly, new experiences seem stressful rather than stimulating, and delight turns into discomfort….

Culture Shock

Abstract The factors of culture shock are various. Different values, beliefs and customs can create information overload. Besides, language barrier reduces the understanding of the new culture and makes people feel isolated. In addition, the difference in food is one of the main factors of culture shock. Original eating habit is not easy to change, so it becomes more difficult to fit in. Moreover, people from different social structures cause culture shock. Furthermore, the individual differences….

Culture Shock

30.11.2010 Culture shock * my personal experience Eydís Brynjarsdóttir kt:091085-3569 Table of Contents 1.0 Introduction 3 2.0 Definition of culture shock 3 3.0 Culture shock lifecycle 4 4.0 Culture shock triangle 6 5.0 My personal experience 8 6.0 Ten steps to minimize culture shock 8 7.0 Conclusion 9 1.0 Introduction I chose culture shock for my discussion in this assignment. I will discuss the definition of Culture shock and how it affects people. I will….

Culture Shock

Overcome the Culture Shock When people move from one culture to another, they usually feel lonely, vulnerable or lost, like a fish out of water. That is called “culture shock”, which was introduced for the first time in 1958 to describe the anxiety produced when a person comes to a completely new environment1. Nowadays, while immigration is becoming more popular due to the globalization, more people suffer from culture shock which results from the difference between two cultures. To combat the….

How to Cope with Culture Shock

How to Cope with Culture Shock | | | | | | * Front Page * What is h2g2? * Who ‘s Online * Write an Entry * Browse * Announcements * Feedback * h2g2 Help * RSS Feeds | | | | | | | | Contact Us Like this page? Send it to a friend! | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | In today ‘s global economy, where major firms have branches in most areas of the world, many more people than ever before contemplate living in another….

Culture Shock

the disparate culture, the culture shock increased in student behavior. The purpose of this report is to discuss the four stages of culture shock (Brick, 1991). We wrote the questionnaire about culture shock to ask the international student at Middlesex University and analysis based on this data. The information will be considered to explain the four stages. * Introduction Leaving home and travel to study in a new country can be a stressful experience. Because Culture shock for many international….

Culture Shock

Culture shock is the personal disorientation a person may feel when experiencing an unfamiliar way of life due to immigration or a visit to a new country or to a move between social environments also a simple travel to another type of life. One of the most common causes of culture shock involves individuals in a foreign environment. Culture shock can be described as consisting of at least one of five distinct phases: Honeymoon, Negotiation, Adjustment, Mastery and Independence, are the most common….