Culture shock is a healthy reaction to new surroundings. If you are travelling to China for the first time, you are bound to experience it. Even so, it is a normal reaction to a learning experience full of adventure.
Deal with your culture shock by using the six tips below:
Keep in touch with those back home
Calling back home is one of the easiest ways to deal with the stresses of culture shock in a foreign country. This is so because culture shock usually emanates from feeling homesick. You may call to vent or to share experiences in your new home, either way; it helps to lay off steam. Set dates and times to make the calls and let it be part of your new routine. If you can’t call, then write and even send postcards from time to time. There’s usually an excitement when you receive a letter or postcard from home.
Make new friends
Many of us are familiar with the new experience of meeting and making new friends.
Look at it this way;
Foreign friends will share with you their experiences in China. Moreover, is it not a consolation to know you are not alone? Secondly, those who came before you can share a few tips on how they dealt with the culture stresses. Most Chinese language schools and hostels usually have events during Western holidays. This is a good avenue to meet new people.
Chinese friends will help you learn about the new environment, identify hang-outs around you and even show you how to manoeuvre in the city. In case you find yourself in a fix, they are the ones to run to. Truth be told, they are the best people to help you adapt to your new environment even though they might not understand your stresses. Simply because they have not gone through the same experience that you are going through. This is why having friends across the divide, is important.
Chinese friends may also help you learn the local language or just a few words which will help you go a long way. They could teach you Mandarin for free if you teach them English as a language exchange.
Friends from your home country are not to be forgotten. Staying close to them will help you keep tabs on what’s going on back home. Even just sharing different life experiences or talking about the social and political news from back home, will help you feel like you connect with your home away from home.
Before you pack your bags, be open-minded. Acknowledge that you are going to a foreign country whose way of life and mannerisms is (as it has always been) different from your norm and work towards accepting them as they are instead of wanting to change them into what you want them to be or what you are used to. Once you embrace an open mind, there won’t be room for complaining, criticising or being rude. You will incline more into wanting to learn thus blending in.
Bring your ‘old’ home to your new home
There are so many ways that you can do this; you can pack a few items that will remind you of home, or have music from home or better yet decorate where you live with some pictures that carry beautiful memories from home. Whatever works for you, put it up there.
Be careful though, not to carry too much or to be too dependent on the artefacts, lest you forget to have room to integrate into the new culture. As you made room to bring some things from home, make room to take some things home too.
Simply, be busy in your local community. Do things that you love to do in your free time. If you used to volunteer back home, find a place to volunteer in your new home. If you are working with kids or youth and you do possess special skills or talents, then teach or share with them during after school hours or weekends. If you possess a skill, let’s say in football or any other sport that interests you, then join a local team. How about learning a local language? Joining a class on how to cook local cuisine? Alternatively, you can teach your newfound Chinese friends a new sport. All these things are worth exploring.
Integrate and have fun. It will make the locals have an interest in you and what you do. Make your stay a little more interesting.
Embrace social media and socialise
Social networking has become valuable in many aspects. For starters, you become knowledgeable of your new environment. You also get to see how other expats dealt with culture shock, the offices or individuals to contact in case you need assistance and recommendations to tourist attraction sites, entertainment spots, restaurants and news from back home.
Some of these sites include,
Known for its beautiful food festival events like the Pizza festival, amazing Eateries with local and international cuisines, local news about Beijing, and places to visit while still in the city.
For different events in town. You could join their groups too and meet new people. Both expats like you or Chinese friends
The Atlas Obscura
An online magazine for wonderful attraction sites in Beijing
For news on attractions in Shanghai (Plus rates and times), Food and nightlife and the different events happening around the city.
When visiting a new country, you will need to learn how to adapt. It’s a continuous process so don’t be too hard on yourself. Nevertheless, expect it and have an open mind, this makes it a lot easier to deal with. Consider it a side effect of a good adventure, don’t let it take away the fun.