I remember when I was first new to the travelling game and to a little thing called culture shock. Landing in an unfamiliar place for the very first time, the stench of a different country lingers in the air, my eyes seeing strange streets that resembled nothing like anything I had seen before. Rubbish, animals and all of the above lining the streets, I struggle to convince myself I’m going to like my new surroundings. Trying to find foods I felt comfortable eating present a whole new challenge within its self. Then there’s understanding the local people. I even at times I found myself questioning their friendliness.
27 countries later, I can honestly say I feel very little culture shock anymore. This is because I know exactly how to deal with arriving at an unfamiliar place. I ensure that I follow these five steps, even when I feel like running.
1. Give Yourself Time.
Don’t judge a place within the first 48 hours of being there. Time allows you to grace your way into your new surroundings slowly and gain back your confidence bit by bit.
2. Immerse Yourself.
Don’t just hide inside your accommodation when you first arrive. Do the exact opposite just when you feel like staying in and pretending the world outside doesn’t exist. Force your self to get out there and see the country, this is when you will gradually begin to feel more comfortable.
3. Remember It’s Not Home.
It is going to be different to where and how you live back home. You will be challenged, you may see things you never imagined you would and you will certainly question the beliefs of others and your own.
4. Talk To Locals.
Talking to the local people, asking questions, trying different foods and accepting invitations will surely educate you on the local culture. Once you make contacts, especially with locals, you will begin to experience things you otherwise wouldn’t have if you were on your own or with your travel companions. Hanging with locals provides you with the real experience of that culture and country. So be inquisitive, friendly, accepting of things you may not normally be and your eyes will be truly open to the new world around you. Learn the basics of the language, like how to say thank you, how are you etc. This is when you will begin to feel alive in your new surroundings.
5. Enjoy Your Travels.
Enjoy every moment of your trip. Remember you are in control of your attitude and how you approach your trip. When you return home you will either have great memories or not so good. This is due to the attitude you adopt when you travel. Be a free spirit, be accepting, friendly, happy even if you may at times not feel like it and you are destined to return home happy, satisfied and thankful for your experiences.
Have any other tips? Share them below.