How to Cope With Culture Shock


Relocating or even traveling abroad can be a thrilling experience. After all, everything is a new and exciting adventure. However, as time wears on, the honeymoon period wears off and many people find that their spirits have plummeted as they deal with depression, homesickness and culture shock. Fortunately, coping with culture shock doesn’t have to be a traumatic experience.

Understand that the emotions you are experiencing are perfectly normal. While it will take some time, you will begin to adjust to your new home and to the new experiences open to you, so don’t get discouraged.

Embrace the culture of your new home country. Be willing to experience new things, to talk with the locals, to explore your new town or city, and to immerse yourself in the culture.

Keep a journal in which you express your thoughts, feelings and experiences in your new country. In addition to helping you deal with your emotions, you’ll have a cherished memento in the future.

Learn the language of your new country. You don’t have to become fluent in your new country’s language, but knowing basic phrases will allow you to better communicate and to fit in with the locals.

Remember to laugh, especially at yourself. Adjusting to a new culture is a challenge, and you'll likely make some embarrassing slip-ups that will be much easier to deal with if you keep your sense of humor.

Hang out with other expats who have likely experienced the same emotions with which you are dealing. Sometimes having a connection to home helps, and you’ll likely make new friends in the process.

Keep an open mind, remembering that your new country is not better or worse than your home country; it’s just different. Do not expect things to be the same as they are at home, because you’re not at home.

Keep in touch with family and friends back at home through phone calls, email and old-fashioned snail mail letters. Keeping in touch will allow you to ease some of your homesickness and to share your new adventure with loved ones.

Get out there and make new friends. By making new friends, you’ll start to build a new life in your new home and will begin the process of assimilation into the culture.

Tips & Warnings

  • Sometimes something as simple as going to a familiar fast food joint or store can help ease homesickness.
  • Don’t become complacent once your culture shock has dissipated. It’s easy to take where you live for granted. Instead of putting off going to that museum or visiting a nearby town, get out there and really experience life in your new country.

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