Travel is a great way to discover new things about the world and yourself. That said, what you discover can come as a shock at first. If you’re traveling somewhere very different from your home and staying abroad for an extended period of time, it will be an adjustment. Thankfully, for as much of a surprise as culture shock can be, there are plenty of ways to handle it.
While it’s great to be excited about your journey, you need to be realistic. Perhaps the most famous example of tourist expectations run amok is the “Paris Syndrome.” This is when visitors to the City of Lights build up such impossible expectations, that it’s going to be the romantic metropolis of their dreams that they can’t help but be disappointed. This isn’t a mere letdown, either. Sufferers can experience dizziness, headaches, and vomiting. Furthermore, the Japanese embassy in Paris has a 24-hour hotline for struggling tourists. The lesson here? Do your research before you leave. Find out where you’re headed, learn what to expect, and be realistic.
Accept Your Feelings
Denial never solved anything (just ask Freud). If you’re feeling culture shock or homesickness, it’s best to be honest about it. Talk to others about how you feel and why. You might discover that others feel the same or they can help alleviate some of your uneasiness. The process of talking, itself, might prove therapeutic and help you get over your culture shock.
Stay Connected to Your Home
Bring something from home with you on your trip, like a family photo or special tea. Watch TV shows from your home country, or Zoom chat with friends and family. All of these strategies can be a great way of staying connected. Home is the place with the people you care about. Therefore, bring along a reminder of home. Being someplace new can be exciting, but it’s healthy to remember your roots.
Get Out and Be Social
If you’re an introvert, this is easier said than done. Still, if you’ve ever learned a new skill, your teacher may have told you to “learn by doing.” The same is true of travel. You won’t get used to your new surroundings if you don’t try. Start small, maybe a walk around the new area. Don’t be afraid to ask for help either. Yes, some people may be annoyed, especially if you don’t speak the local language. However, there are just as many, if not more, people willing to help you. If you’re staying somewhere long-term, see if there’s a community of expatriates from your native country living in the area. Seek and you will find!
Travel can be scary, but it can likewise be invigorating. Finally, give yourself a chance. Break out of your culture shock slump and try something new with realistic expectations. The opportunities are endless!