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Will I Face Culture Shock?

Partly it depends on your experience – often people who have travelled before are less affected than people who are travelling abroad for the first time.

Some definitions describe a “honeymoon period” where things are just quirky and intriguing, but after some time those same things become frustrating.

  • Keep an open mind

    …well of course. Don’t constantly compare your host country to your home country or expect them to be the same. Things are different and that’s part of the charm. Sometimes it is hard to know though if something that seems really wrong is in fact wrong (your boss has no plan for the school) or is simply a cultural thing. Better advice might be “learn about the country before you turn up.”

  • Find others you can relate to on some level

    I think having other teachers in a similar position as you (new teachers if you are new, native speakers from your country if you’re a native speaker, people around your age) to occasionally commiserate with might be the most useful tool. I remember how my mindset changed when another native speaker teacher working in a different country started describing some of the frustrations that plagued her working life. Wait a minute, I thought, that’s my working life she’s describing! I was the only new teacher and only native speaker at my school and really had no sense that this was typical – local colleagues may be accustomed to these things, and even if they don’t like them, they haven’t had to go through the process of getting used to them.

  • Note, though, the occasionally – absolutely do not let yourself get into a rut of complaining sessions. This leads to nothing good. But from time to time it can help to have a shoulder to cry on or someone to confirm that the frustrations you’re having are not so uncommon after all.
  • My biggest realization was just that culture shock is not inability to adapt to smaller things (people don’t queue properly, they use different gestures, etc.) but to those very things like attitude towards planning, or people not so keen on admitting possible errors or acknowleging when others are, ahem, I am, correct. These are not things you may easily avoid while traveling, so be aware that even seasoned travelers can experience culture shock.