Many expats experience some kind of culture shock, especially during the first 6 months of their lives in a new country.  After a while your fascination for your new country, enjoyment of the local food and culture etc, may begin to wear off and your tolerance of certain things could turn into frustration. You may feel increasingly isolated and annoyed by the language barrier, the local cuisine, culture and public hygiene etc. This is not to say that you have gotten bored and lost enthusiasm altogether, it is a natural psychological process which occurs when you move abroad long-term. Here are some ways to help you deal with culture shock:

  • Admit your feelings to yourself: Know the signs and symptoms of culture shock and admit to yourself when it is happening. When you are feeling down remind yourself that you are just going through a natural process and you will be a much stronger person when it wears off.
  • Get yourself into a routine: Try to get into a good routine that involves going to bed and waking up at a reasonable time most days of the week, eat regular meals and create a sensible balance between work and leisure.
  • Keep an open mind: Even the most laid back of travellers can adopt negative attitudes towards the native people and customs when culture shock kicks in. Although it’s easier said than done, try to keep an open mind by saying to yourself that your new country is not necessarily backwards but is different.
  • Learn the language: It has been said that a different language is a different vision of life. Not only will learning your new country’s native tongue make your life much easier and less stressful- it will unlock some new and exciting aspects of where you live. We would highly recommend the Pimsleur language courses- which are audio based and very well suited to everyday usage of the new language. Visual learners may prefer the Rosetta Stone courses.
  • Try to nurture good friendships: Take some time to get to know people around you who are in the same situation. Not only do you give yourself a support network or shoulder to cry on, you can learn from other people’s culture shocks and adjustment problems. Being around people with similar cultural backgrounds to yourself will certainly give you a sense of normality.
  • Develop relationships with the native population: The chances are that wherever you go there will be many locals who would love to have a foreign friend to broaden their cultural horizons. Take a little time to speak to people who approach you with broken English and show an interest in them. Besides of the interest you will arouse being a foreigner, the fact that your new country will probably be more community orientated than western societies greatly enhances your opportunities to meet new people.
  • Celebrate the aspects of your new life that you love: Whatever it is about your new country and its culture that you particularly like or enjoy- have or do more of it and remind yourself that you can’t get this experience back home.
  • Have a good look around: See new places. Plan trips on your days off work, go for a stroll on a weekend evening and go out for a meal or a drink in a new part of town every so often. Avoid making your lifestyle stagnant and try to rid yourself of feelings that you’ve already seen everything worth seeing in town. You can also take the opportunity to use your holidays to see other countries nearby that you are interested in. Maybe there is a country close to where you are that is more western orientated so that you can get some home comforts without actually going back home.
  • Give yourself some normality: If you used to go for a run in the park, read books, play computer games or go out dancing in bars back home; do the same or something similar in your new country.
  • Treat yourself to home comforts: You can get things posted out to you from virtually anywhere on the planet. Every so often ask people to send you some things that you miss from back home or order them online.
  • Stay healthy: You don’t need to become a fitness freak to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Having some good quality meals and staying hydrated is certainly a good start. If you are interested in playing sports, joining a gym or simply just getting out for a walk in the park; do it. A healthy body generally does lead to a healthier mind.