Experiencing culture shock can be challenging when trying to settle into your Erasmus+ or Turing Scheme destination. Culture shock is also connected with homesickness and that’s not what we want you to experience during your Erasmus+ or Turing Scheme stay because it can downgrade your unique chance to live in a foreign country and have the best time of your life! Culture shock is characterised by 4 steps that we explained to you in our blog: What is Culture Shock?
We want to help you to overcome the culture shock fast, so that you can enjoy your Erasmus+ or Turing Scheme mobility to the fullest and don’t have to worry about any mixed feelings.
Culture shock might kick in when communication fails. It can be very challenging to talk to people when you know only a little or no vocabulary. You want to make friends and get to know new people, but possibly, you don’t know how to say certain words. This can be very frustrating, but don’t give up, after some time you will become more comfortable with the language. Practice is the key when learning a new language.
To bypass this obstacle, we advise you to start learning the new language before leaving your hometown. This can be done through certain online tools or by doing a language course. Alternatively you can also do A Language Course During your Erasmus+ or Turing Scheme Internship. Perhaps you can also find someone who can speak language or who’s a native, so that you can practice a bit before you go?
Talk to Your Family About the Differences
Sometimes talking about certain things you recognise as “different” can help a lot when dealing with a new place. Maybe your family at home can calm you down a bit and explain that your feelings are totally normal. Especially if your Erasmus+ or Turing Scheme internships last for a long period, it is advisable to still stay in touch with your family and friends at home. They can help you avoid overreacting with certain issues and push your self-confidence considerably, helping to relive stress.
Getting to know the locals at your Erasmus+ or Turing Scheme destination can help you to gain better insight into the culture. Consciously try new things at your Erasmus+ or Turing Scheme destination in order to become familiar with the culture. Your new friends can guide you and show you some specialities of the country or even new cuisine. You can also share your own traditions with them, for example arrange an international dinner, where each nation cooks something popular from their home country.
Try to watch the body language of locals carefully in order to better understand them. Sometimes frustration appears when we don’t understand the behaviour of others. Even when there are traditions that you do not fully understand and support, you should still respect them.
Write a Diary
Write down all your experiences from the very start of your Erasmus+ or Turing Scheme mobility. Note your positive as well as negative feelings. This can also be an important step to overcome culture shock. After your Erasmus+ or Turing Scheme stay you can read through your diary and maybe you won’t know why you overreacted or had negative feelings because things slotted into place for you so they stopped being shocking!
Take a Deep Breath
Sometimes being patient pays off, especially when it has to do with accepting new foreign cultures. Allow yourself some time to reflect on the situation. There is a reason why you are doing your Erasmus+ or Turing Scheme internship – you want to gain international experience and broaden your horizon – keep those goals in mind. Culture shock usually occurs when you experience something negative or shocking. Reflecting on the negative and positive feelings can help you overcome culture shock and better understand the conflict or adaption problem.
Positivity is the key to success when trying to overcome culture shock. Hating everything at your Erasmus+ or Turing Scheme destination will most likely not be beneficial for settling in. Consciously finding positive things that make you happy will help you to fall in love with your new home. It could be a special place that you like to visit, or maybe a mall with your favourite shops, or the best pizza place where you enjoy hanging out with your friends.
Keep in mind that your Erasmus+ or Turing Scheme mobility is a really unique opportunity that you can benefit from throughout your whole life. It shapes your professional career as well as your personality.
Overcoming culture shock is a process, that usually everybody at a new destination experiences, especially if it is the First Time Living Away from your Home Country. So, it is normal to feel uncomfortable at some stage, what is important is that you try your best to eliminate the negative feelings and start enjoying your Erasmus+ or Turing Scheme stay.
If you have already experienced culture shock, feel free to share your story in the comments below. Maybe your words could be useful for people feeling the same right now!