Culture shock is an unavoidable reality for anyone living or traveling away from their home country or continent. The things that we take for granted as being normal are regularly supplanted by the norms of the new culture in which we’ve immersed ourselves. The vast majority of the time these differences are exciting or at the very least charming, but there will often come times when a traveler or expat will be faced with that slight discomfort of culture shock. Below we have compiled a few suggestions for fighting culture shock in whatever form it may come at you.
1. Fight homesickness
It’s going to happen. You move to the other side of the world away from everything that you once considered “normal” and feeling a bit of homesickness is to be expected. The typical suggestions of bringing things from home with you and calling/Skyping with family are great, but these can also lead to more feelings of nostalgia. Instead, we highly suggest staying busy during your first few weeks. Go out and explore your neighborhood and city. Make friends with people you work with and go out with them. When we first moved to Korea, we landed in a pretty tough situation. Keeping our weekends filled with traveling and trying new things definitely helped to quell any feelings of anxiety.
2. Learn about the culture
This is really important. Learning a bit about the culture of the country you are moving to will prepare you immensely for the things to come. If you don’t know a thing about your new host country before you land there, then you are immediately opening yourself up to some major culture shock and frustrations. Check out Good Reads and search for books about the culture of your new country. The books are fairly short in length and will greatly help you deal with any issues that may arise.
3. Try some of the food
If you live in a larger city now, you may be able to find a local restaurant with some taste of the food you’re about to be surrounded by. Even while living in Oklahoma we were able to find a Korean restaurant nearby in our area. We had followed a few Korean food bloggers and so we had a basic idea of what to order. We tried a few dishes before moving abroad so we could have some ideas on what to fall back on while going out to eat. Doing this also help fuel your excitement for things to come!
4. Learn some of the language
This is not to say that you should become fluent before moving abroad, however, we do highly suggest learning some basic phrases and words. This will really help you out when you first make your move. The one thing I regret most is not learning a bit more Korean before moving here. We eventually learned how to read (SUPER easy as it turns out) and picked up on some of the language, but if we had known some sooner, we would have had a lot easier transition. If you are also moving to Korea, check out Talk To Me In Korean for videos with great instruction!
5. Get excited
Above all, GET EXCITED. Browse photos online and check out bloggers and photographers living in the area. Follow people on Instagram, YouTube, and Pinterest who post pictures, information, and daily expat life. Soak up all you can about your new host country and get pumped up about your move. Before moving to Korea, we sat down everyday at lunch and watched YouTube videos of fellow expats living in Korea. We got to learn a bit about the culture and country while energizing ourselves for our upcoming move.