When travelling overseas, everyone experiences the ups and downs of cultural adjustment or Culture Shock. The team at CISaustralia aims to minimise culture shock by setting realistic expectations for students participating in CISaustralia programs. We place great importance on preparing students for their overseas program through a variety of pre-departure materials including personal pre-departure phone calls and/or webinars, pre-departure guides, counselling, etc.
When preparing to travel overseas the best thing you can do is expect it to be different. You may end up comparing everything with how it’s done “back home” as you go through stages of loving a new culture, and you may have difficulty accepting why things are done differently than what you are used to. More serious troubles might include bouts of depression and doubt.
This is a normal process, especially when you are in a foreign country for an extended period of time. Try to remain open; be an observer and learn to appreciate the differences. Talk to your friends about differences and try to understand these differences and the culture more generally.
The study, intern or volunteer program you’ve chosen may take place in a country where English is the second or third language spoken. Therefore, it is helpful to learn some basic conversational phrases. This communicates respect for the culture and an effort to integrate into the local community.
Experts have suggested that there are four stages of culture shock:
Almost everyone experiences culture shock to some degree – large or small. It can be frustrating and confusing but there are positive steps that you can take to minimise the impact of culture shock:
While Culture Shock is well-known and anticipated prior to travel, Reverse Culture Shock is not as recognised or expected amongst most travellers, especially if it is your first time re-entering your home country. The team at CISaustralia places great importance on preparing students for their re-entry to Australia after participating in a program overseas.
Students may experience some trouble readjusting back to “regular” life. Everyone experiences Reverse Culture Shock to some extent. As with Culture Shock, the best way to combat it is to be prepared and ready to experience it in some way. Some symptoms include:
While Reverse Culture Shock is a personal experience that varies from person to person, some things that may help are:
More information and advice on identifying and easing Reverse Culture Shock can be found at the following:
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