There’s no place like home.  We’ve all felt it, that aching inside telling us things just don’t feel right. Whether you are over the rainbow or on the other side of the world, everyone of us has become accustomed to certain way of life ─ meaning the type of food we eat, the expense of living, the construction of our houses, the day-to-day transportation we use, all of it.  When we step out into the world, we expect it to look a certain way; although, we aren’t consciously aware of it. With traveling and living abroad, we are faced with the realization that the everyday life we have become accustomed to will change. No matter how we prepare ourselves, many of us are likely to find that when abroad we experience culture shock on some level.

Culture Shock Cui Guinea Pig

Culture shock is the term we use when a form of information overload occurs for someone being immersed into an entirely foreign environment; essentially, it sends them into a sort of dazed state of existence – everything around them appears all at once different from what they know.  Culture shock can essentially involve any or even all of your senses ─ sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch.

Experiencing culture shock can result in a variety of symptoms both physical and emotional, as most will tell you. Symptoms include, but are not limited to: homesickness, sadness, frustration, insomnia, and headaches. Being aware of what you are feeling and why you are feeling that way is key to being able to move forward and to not allowing culture shock symptoms to overwhelm you or take away from your time abroad.  There’s no place like home, that statement is true, but that doesn’t mean adapting to a new place and loving it just as much isn’t possible.  If you find that you are suffering from culture shock, try some of these steps to help ease your symptoms:

1. Involve yourself in a routine. If you are volunteering, working, or studying abroad, this is easily done, as a routine is essentially provided for you; if not, make one.

2. Exercise. Get out and walk around, go hiking, join a gym, just get yourself moving. Exercise often helps lift spirits and helps you maintain a positive outlook.

3. Seek out ways to meet new people. Join a yoga class, take group salsa lessons, find out what activities your hostel hosts, find a pub quiz night, anything that gets you socializing.

4. Skype people back home. It is important not to cut of the people back home; seeing familiar faces and hearing supportive words from them will help you tremendously.

5. Surround yourself with familiar things. Put up pictures of things back home, read your favorite book, or maybe find or make a food that reminds you a little of home.

6. Give yourself time to adjust. You will not normalize immediately. Take time to learn the culture and just allow yourself to get in groove of life abroad.