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Adjustment Tips

Recognizing irritation as a symptom of culture shock will enable you to deal more effectively with adjusting to a new cultural environment. You need to acknowledge the irritation and ask yourself why this aspect of the culture annoys you but seems perfectly natural and agreeable to the citizens of the host country.

Your success in changing the negative facets of culture shock to the positive side of challenge depends on your developing a new set of attitudes before and during your travels.

Check yourself periodically on the following attitudes to assess your progress in intercultural adjustment:

  • Maintain an attitude of curiosity and eagerness to learn.
  • Be quick to observe and slow to judge.
  • Don't be afraid to make mistakes, and learn to accept "corrections" graciously.
  • Be generous in showing appreciation.
  • Be adaptable. "Try it, you’ll like it."
  • Keep a sense of humor, especially about yourself..
  • Go to learn, not to teach.
  • Show a sincere consideration for others.
  • Be cooperative and willing to compromise.
  • Be yourself and enjoy yourself. Accept the fact that you are in a period of transition.
  • Be creative and flexible.

How to cope with culture shock? Some specific coping strategies include:

  • Keep a journal, in print or online.
  • Besides dates and places, writing about emotions and awareness helps keep a sense of perspective.
  • Explore.
  • Resist the temptation to withdraw from new situations.
  • Find a map, strike out on your own, and explore the territory.
  • Observe people closely and try to pick up subtle nuances about the culture.
  • Setting personal goals before leaving helps you target your learning.
  • Assessing your goals from time to time while traveling keeps you focused and grounded.
  • Hobbies and outside activities. Run, swim, walk.
  • Remember this is only temporary.
  • Keep your sense of humor.

(Adapted from Bring Home the World by Stephen Rhinesmith pp 54-57.)