Culture Shock: A Challenge of International Travel Experiences

Many of our program participants just started their internships in a new country or city. They will get to experience all the novel thrills of traveling like tasting local cuisines and passing by historic castles on their daily commutes. Everyone here at Global Experiences has lived or worked overseas and understands that travel is an enriching and life-changing experience, but it can also be challenging. That frustration often stems from culture shock, but being able to identify the symptoms can help you ease the discomfort and anxiety of living in a new place.

Culture shock is the discomfort or disorientation from being in a new environment, culture, or country. It is very common for people to experience culture shock in some way or another, especially those embarking on an international travel experience. There are four main stages of study abroad culture shock that occur at different times for each person:

Culture Shock Curve Chart

  1. The Honeymoon Stage --This is when everything is new and fascinating about your host country. It's in this stage that when you may fall in love with Italian pizza or the Irish accent.
  2. The Distress or Negotiation Stage -- This is when the differences between your home culture and the host country become apparent and feelings of frustration or anxiety occur. For example, you really want a peanut butter and jelly sandwich to remind you home, but you realize your host country doesn't carry grape jelly anywhere. You become frustrated and even more homesick for familiar foods and grocery stores.
  3. The Autonomy or Adjustment Stage -- At this stage, you become familiar with your surroundings and develop a routine. The same concerns will occur, but you will be better equipped to handle them.
  4. The Independence or Mastery Stage -- No one ever does a complete conversion into a new culture, but eventually, you learn to comfortably adjust to the new environment.

The easiest way to combat the feelings of boredom, frustration, and homesickness originated from culture shock is by creating new friendships with other program participants or locals. Global Experiences' offers multiple social events and excursions throughout the program so be sure to take advantage of them to help ease the anxiety of living in a new place. Most importantly, go explore your new city and cherish the experience! Linked to the My Global Life Link-Up.

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