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Dealing with culture shock


Almost everyone moving to a foreign land experiences at least mild culture shock. It’s normal for newcomers to another culture to have mixed feelings of curiosity and excitement, but also some discomfort. Knowing what culture shock is, what its different stages are, and how to cope with it considerably lessens its effects.

Personal feelings volunteers may experience

  • Honeymoon in the beginning: Everybody is nice, nothing is wrong, you’re having a wonderful time.
  • Distress and homesickness after a while: Differences build up until one day there are just so many differences that you don’t know how to deal with them. You didn’t think things would be like this. “Why do they do it this way instead of the way I’m used to?” “Nobody told me it would be like this? I wish I hadn’t come!”

Strategies to adapt to your new environment and culture

  • Recognize when our own values and beliefs may be causing conflicts in a different culture.
  • Analyze cultural interactions.
  • Make a simple plan that will help you cope with a new culture.

Coping with culture shock

  • Negotiating with myself and the hosts: You start learning to deal with the difficulties and accepting that they’re there and you can handle them.
  • Adapting and feeling proud: You’re able to live well in the environment with the differences you’re experiencing. You now even enjoy many of the differences; after all, they’re one of the reasons you came to a different culture! And you’re proud to have overcome the difficulties.

Specific things you can do to overcome culture shock

  • Keep active.
  • Make local friends.
  • Read before you come.
  • Exercise.
  • Get involved in the local community life.
  • Work on your Thai/Lao/Khmer etc.
  • Meet other volunteers and exchange experiences.
  • Be open minded, patient and flexible.
  • Be proud to be a volunteer.

Blog posted from Prajak Sillapakhom Alley, Nai Mueang, Mueang Nong Khai District, Nong Khai 43000, Thailand View larger map

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