Do I have symptoms of culture shock?

By: Debby HernandezWork and Travel Marketing and Outreach Intern 

If you have been feeling sad, lonely, or confused during your stay, know that you are not alone! You may be experiencing something many people go through when visiting a new place, known as culture shock. However, there are many ways to relieve your symptoms, and in turn, help you adjust and begin enjoying your new home away from home.  

To better understand this concept, there are three areas in your life to examine. Here are a few tips to help you cope in each area: 

  • Struggling with relationships? 
    • Do NOT isolate yourself! Join a club or group in your community. Find a hobby or activity like those you enjoyed back home. Volunteering in an area you are passionate about is a great way to meet new people.
    • Be curious about your surroundings. Join in, help out, or ask questions. Take time to explore your new environment. 
    • Start a journal, a photo album, or a blog to document your time in the United States. and have something to share with those back home. 
    • Celebrate the cultural differences of your host community. Do not compare your host country life with your life back home in a negative way. What are some of the differences and what are they allowing you to learn? What are some of the similarities?  
    • Do NOT compare your experience with others! Everyone’s experience is unique and different – enjoy yours! 
    • Having mixed emotions about your new role? 
  • Discuss your feelings with others in your host community. 
    • Journal to identify your emotions and the challenges you are facing. 
    • Embrace your new role! View it as a learning experience. 
    • Talk with those in your new community
  • Losing motivation or feeling tired and stressed in your daily routine? 
    • Take care of your health! Eat properly, exercise and get plenty of rest. 
    • Create your own routine for your daily activities. Having a new routine can quickly transform a new place into one that is comfortable. 
    • Include time to explore your new community in your daily schedule. 
    • Consider that just like you have ‘bad days’ at home, you will have ‘bad days’ abroad. 

Remember, experiencing culture shock is normal and temporary. Therefore, be compassionate with yourself and follow these tips to help you cope in the process. As always, feel free to reach out to Greenheart for more resources to make the most of your experience!