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Culture Shock: What it is and how to cope with it.

| November 7, 2011 | 3 Comments

Many people who travel and live in other countries for a prolonged period of time experience culture shock. Here we are not talking of the cultural shock one might experience when walking into as art gallery’s room for abstract art, when the senses are bombarded with screaming colours and weird outlines and contours. Culture shock runs much deeper than this and is a feeling of alienation or anomie, when you feel disorientated and out of touch with your surroundings and what is going on around you.

You may feel ill, although this is generally psychosomatic, or you may start to worry about your health. You may, in extreme cases not want to go out and miss lectures, seminars and important tutorials.

 

The “Honeymoon” period

When you first land in a new country you usually feel excited, and curious, so culture shock will probably not affect you immediately. However the disorientated may start at the airport, when you hear all kinds of languages and regional accents. You may ask someone for directions and not understand anything except the gestures, because of the person’s accent. Even if your English spoken skills are proficient, it is likely that you have not heard such a range of regional accents as you can come across in the British Isles. This in itself is disconcerting. You do get used to regional accents so have to attune your brain to accepting and translating them.

 

How to prepare for different accents

To acquaint yourself with regional accents it may be a good idea to listen to some of the audio material on the BBC’s Learning English website, or the British Council’s website. These websites also give you an insight into British culture so before you enterBritainyou could also try to learn about some cultural practices which are different to those in your country, so that culture shock does not set in immediately.

 

Keep close ties with family and friends

While in Britain you should stay in touch with your friends and family in your own country and make use of the societies at University where you can meet your compatriots. The chaplaincies and counseling services can help you overcome culture shock as can your personal tutor.

The best advice is to make yourself go out and talk with people as, surprisingly they will probably understand how you feel and empathize, while offering you ways to get over culture shock.

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Category: International Student Guide

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