A Practical Guide to Teaching English Abroad

Frank and Friendly Advice written by a Retired Teacher-Trainer, Experienced EFL Teacher
& Former Peace Corps Volunteer Living & Working Abroad since 1989

What is Culture Shock?

Will I get it?
If I do - what can I do about it?

Yeah, you'll probably get it.  But sometimes I think "shock" is a bit of an overstatement.

You can expect to feel euphoric (I finally made it!),

Angry (Why can't I make things work, like back home!),

Depressed and disappointed (Everything isn't exactly like I wanted/expected it to be!),

And isolated (I don't really know anyone here). 

It's okay - this is normal.  After all this is a very big time in your life - of course you will have some strong feelings about it! 

Natural Reactions

These emotional reactions are all natural responses to the situation you will find yourself in overseas.  How to deal with it?  Get busy - personal projects, work, travel, making friends, even volunteering.  But,  also take a little time and just recognize the feelings for what they are.

One of the best articles about dealing with Culture Shock is at About.com Culture Shock: by About.com

Don't forget that you can have problems with your job, boss, landlord, and friends back home too.  Don't blame it all on your host country!

Know that once you have lived in several countries, the effects of culture shock diminish as you learn to have more realistic expectations, and as you just naturally learn how to deal with it.

Surviving Uncertainty

Part of the issue with culture shock is also the uncertainty of your new situation - how it is going to evolve - and your general feelings about it.  Follow the same course of treatment for culture shock!  Quit moping around the house and get busy!

Check the chart below for a better understanding of what goes on and your choices:


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