What is culture shock?
As an expat living abroad, you start noticing different attitudes and behaviours from the very moment you arrive to a new country. This can result in misunderstanding or negative perceptions, but as soon as you are able to manage expectations, you start learning from the new culture and can then experience some really positive changes. Take a look at some of the benefits of culture shock:
Culture shock makes you more understanding
By comprehending cultural differences and accepting new ways in which people behave, you can also gain a better understanding of human nature.
Everyone is different – as you share with others who have a contrasting background to yours, you can become a more understanding and empathetic individual. This also gives you an opportunity to learn more about yourself!
Some easy ways to break down barriers when meeting new people include: hosting a dinner to introduce people to traditional food from your own country, visiting a street market to try out new local food dishes and attending events to engage with new colleagues or friends.
Culture shock makes you stronger
Facing an unfamiliar environment and culture shock can be scary. Once you move abroad, you have taken the challenge, and as you start to adapt and to get accustomed to your new home, you are beating the fear.
Fighting the fear of the unknown provides you with a great deal of personal growth, and it shapes your personality to become someone stronger, more resilient to change. This can be very beneficial for your personal growth as an individual.
Culture shock expands your social circle
Once you’ve mastered culture shock and you become more comfortable in your new environment, you have the opportunity to make new friends and expand your social circle to a global scale. Plus, befriending people from different backgrounds can turn into a transformative experience; it opens your mind and opens doors to opportunities in other parts of the world.
When trying to break the ice when meeting new people, it helps to have an activity in common. Consider joining your local community centre or your local gym. You could also try joining a local running club.
Culture shock can help you become smarter
Part of immersing in a new culture may force you to learn a new language. Knowing a second language comes with obvious benefits as you apply them in your routine and it improves your communication, but there’s more.
Recent studies have found that people who speak two or more languages have more grey matter in parts of their brains – the area responsible for attention span and short term memory. So managing another language gives you cognitive advantages as well!
This can be a big advantage for those who can speak the same language as the locals of the new country they are in. Expats who can communicate like this can have an easier time settling down abroad.
Culture shock gives you the opportunity to try new things
New cultures usually bring you the opportunity to experience entirely different things, which can be both unique and exciting.
The new environment may lead you to try new food, see new things, visit places, learn new sports... The list is endless! Each country has its perks and peculiarities, and embracing the adventure will enrich your life.
We understand that moving to a new country can be very exciting but also overwhelming, check out our blog post ‘becoming an expat’ and find out more tips on how to adapt to a new culture while living abroad.