By Lily King
Culture shock. A phrase often heard before travelling abroad, and a phrase all too often ignored.
Whether you are off travelling in Europe or somewhere further afield, you will undoubtedly encounter cultures that differ to your own. This can be overwhelming if you don’t prepare yourself. Follow these top tips before you travel so you too can tackle culture shock.
Tip One: Get first-hand advice
Ask people who have been to your destination about their experiences, so that you can get an idea of some of the cultural differences. This could be someone you know personally who has been to the area, or if not you could find someone on social media. Year abroad or backpacker Facebook pages are a good place to start. There are also many online blogs about culture shock in specific areas that could also be helpful.
Tip Two: Learn about the laws and customs
Keep yourself from running into trouble by reading up on laws and customs in your destination which differ from those in the UK. You can find up-to-date information on the places you are travelling to at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s Foreign Travel Advice webpage: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice. Also visit Travel Aware’s Youtube channel (https://www.youtube.com/user/fcotravel) where you can find useful videos about laws and customs and many other topics.
Tip Three: Immerse yourself in the culture
The culture will seem more alien to you if you don’t embrace it. So rather than simply visiting somewhere, be part of it! Get involved in local activities and find a Tandem Partner (either online or through your institution if you’re studying) to learn the native language. This will give you a greater understanding for the culture, and you’ll meet people and even make friends who can answer any questions you may have.
Tip Four: Be open-minded
Keep in mind that the social norms in the country you are heading to will likely be different to those at home. So when something unusual happens, take a moment to remember this. While it may seem strange to you at first, if you relax and remain open to this new culture you’ll settle into the new culture in no time at all!