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How To Overcome Culture Shock - 5 simple tricks

Popularity 5Viewed 7008 times 2014-3-14 15:12 |Personal category:CULTURAL INTELLIGENCE|System category:Life

    How to overcome culture shock   

5 tricks to overcome hardship in new environment

It is a bitter resentment towards social norm and varies standards of a host country or culture. You know you want to go back to the system where everything is secure and confortable. It’s hard to deal with all the confusion, misfit, ignorance and discomfort.

Cultural shock is a funny thing. Everyone experiences in new country but it’s often heard from people with background of developed countries. My American, British, French and German friends complain more about life in China than my African friends. It seems if you have lived in a worse condition than where you are currently, impact of culture shock is positive. On the contrary, if you have lived in a perfect world, now you have to walk through street where mucus and spit is everywhere, and people pisses in the public streets, culture shock obviously will impact you negatively.

Due to unbearable facts of cultural shock, many of my American friends went back home in their first year in China. Some has stayed and completed their mission in China. They seem to use simple mind tricks to overcome the shock. These tricks could help not only if you are entering a new country, but also will help you facilitate career successfully in a new company or organization.

 

1.    Loose your anchor.  Anything we see and absorb, we reference with what is seen before. Information we receive in the past becomes our anchor, or reference point. For example when we see a street full of people, we might think “oh, its similar to New York City, where I am from”, or “this staff is very rude and unprofessional, this is not how you service people back home”. In a way social interactions and expectations are anchored by your previous experiences. But to experience brand new way is to loose that reference point.  Remember The Alchemist, a book by Marco Paulo? Main character’s triumph came from his fast adaptation to new culture. Most successful Egyptologists were able to decipher the old secret writing of pyramid by completely submerging themselves in the country’s culture and way of life. Its hard to loose what you have learned as a child, but they are the things that holds you back from being a new person in a new country. Once you loose your anchor, you will be much more curios and tolerable to new things. This is why children and younger kids learn new language faster than adults, because they don’t have an anchor to carry around. 

2.    Be extra curios. If its hard to loose your anchor, don’t worry there is an another trick. Be curios about people and things, and why do they do what they do. Many times it will help you to better understand why they are acting in such manner. Maybe it’s their culture? But why? How come?  

Many great novelists are great analysts of people’s behaviors. Their curiosity never ends. To learn about their subjects actors spend countless hours analyzing living among foreign people. Think of yourself as detective to find a clue, and be extra curios of why they are way they are. 

3.    Be genuine and make friends. If you are not naturally curios or analytical type, here is a good trick that fits your character. Make new friends and hangout with them as much as you can. If you seem to be bored with them, just make more and more friends. Friends are never too many. Just be genuine and make many friends as possible. After you have enough friends, you can choose which group you may want to fit in deeply. Few months hanging out with them you will be fused in their subculture. If you are too busy to chase after new people, just make few good friends and treasure them. One of my dearest friends from France suggested that “you have to make time for others, no matter how busy you are”, and she has tons of friends all over the world. Friends will ease your shock and help you to get around.

4.    Be out, not in. People who are more outgoing and social tend to have much easier time overcoming cultural shocks. That means go OUT! Don’t lock yourself in your room and be lonely. Don’t go on facebook, youtube, or start watching TV series until the midnight and reminisce the past life back in the States. I did that for a while, condition worsened. My suggestion is Do not stay home and read English books and miss home. Be outside as much as you can. Simply close the door from the outside and walk around the neighborhood or go to downtown. When you are outside, you are forced to experience discomfort. Day by day, your tolerance for foreign will decrease. One day you will realize you have changed and overcame your cultural shock.

5.    Be nobody. Ok, back-home you where power broker, go-to guy, Mr. Know how, moneymaker, go-getter, or whoever. I meant your socio-economic position where much higher than where you stand in a new country. Naturally people will treat you differently, and you will have to deal with lot of interesting characters that previously had no business being in your life. Its can be stressful and even minimal things can get to you. Best way to overcome this type of anxiety is to forget who you are. Just be nobody! but remember your goal and why you are in you current new place. You can’t change other people especially in a whole new country, but you can change yourself. Being nobody will only help you to overcome social differences and challenges. When you finally drop your guard and insecurity, you can be anybody in your new country.

6.    Be prepared to fail. Biggest threat in overcoming cultural shock is to miss your loved ones. It’s the hardest thing to deal with if you are first time away from home. Even if you’re from a most individualistic society, you will end up missing someone. Missing your wife and children is especially hard. The best way is to focus on your goal and push yourself to get to the goal. Read positive messages and books to keep your mind from going OFF. Be busy with your mind and be active with your body. Exercise regularly and wrap your mind around your sole purpose of being in your new place.

 

So here are simple tips and tricks to overcome cultural shock. Please share if you have unique ideas to overcome this period of lost in confusion, homesick resentment. Suggest these tricks to your friends to get over their shock quickly and move on their new life in China.

 

(Opinions of the writer in this blog don't represent those of China Daily.)


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Comment Comment (9 comments)

Reply Report voice_cd 2014-3-14 18:01
Thanks for sharing your story here! We have highlighted your story to the homepage.
Reply Report ColinSpeakman 2014-3-14 20:15
Very enjoyable and a good list. Good advice. One comment: "On the contrary, if you have lived in a perfect world, now you have to walk through street where mucus and spit is everywhere, and people pisses in the public streets, culture shock obviously will impact you negatively."  The comment: The West is no perfect world!
Reply Report Ariunbold 2014-3-19 07:26
You are right Mr. ColinSpeakman West is not perfect. The world is not perfect, but of course we all know that :)
Reply Report voice_cd 2014-4-13 13:44
Ariunbold: You are right Mr. ColinSpeakman West is not perfect. The world is not perfect, but of course we all know that :)
Dear Ariunbold,
No offense, is this blog your own work or you read it from other place? If it's out from your own experience, we would like to promote it in our other platform in your name massively.
Reply Report 财神 2014-4-13 13:53
Nice Suggestions!! Good job!!
Reply Report Ariunbold 2014-4-14 06:40
voice_cd: Dear Ariunbold,
No offense, is this blog your own work or you read it from other place? If it's out from your own experience, we would like to promot ...
Dear Admin
Every piece I post in your portal is my own work. There are no plagiarism. I would be happy if you consider promoting or suggesting a topic I should write about.

thank you
Reply Report PatrickInBeijin 2014-4-14 10:29
Good post!  Good suggestions.  Let me emphasize that point about curiosity.  If we see something "different" and go "that's interesting" instead of "that's strange", we will have a different attitude towards differences.  And of course, if you are outgoing and make friends, you may never experience much in the way of culture shock.
It's also useful not to go around thinking "that's not the way we do it at home."  This is true, but then we are not "at home".  
Great writing!
Reply Report RENREW 2014-5-21 11:58
Very nice piece of work!
While reading through your post I stopped half way and started again from the beginning to the end in a much more concentrated way.
Being through with that I had to realize that I have lost my huge anchor,- pity I can not really remember were and when that happened.
Reply Report Ariunbold 2014-5-21 13:34
RENREW: Very nice piece of work!
While reading through your post I stopped half way and started again from the beginning to the end in a much more concentrate ...
Someone once said. "being everywhere is equal to being nowhere" what a sad and true statement. I just turned 28, worked studied in many different cultures and countries. Sometimes you change so much that you will have no anchor left to lose, no identity and uniqueness.
Its a good thing if you try to adopt a new culture, but its sad for a person to be part of any conformity.

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