As our participants make final preparations for their summer programs, it’s time to think about cultural adjustment. What is a cultural adjustment? It is the period of time when a the newness of a culture takes an individual through four stages: euphoria (aka the honeymoon phase), disorientation and anxiety (culture shock), gradual adjustments, and, finally, adaptation. Each person passes through these stages at a different rate but the overall goal is to keep progressing, rather than getting thrown off-track by the anxiety, disorientation, and even anger that can occur in the culture shock phase.
Don’t worry! You can prepare yourself for cultural adjustment while you’re still at home. Here’s how:
1.Research! – Take time to read some books, fiction and non-fiction, from your host culture. Look that the history of the region. Besides being fascinating, it can provide valuable insights. Don’t forget to pack reading for the plane and leisure time at your host site. Favorite books from home can provide a healthy sense of relief from being in a foreign culture.
2. Bring Diversions – Stash a portable hobby that you’ve been ignoring in your carry-on, or make plans to discover a new hobby abroad. Exercise is the healthiest of all diversions, so pack some shoes and clothes that let you move!
3. Connect – Find some upbeat friends or family who will send you encouraging emails for the first couple weeks. Talk to the WE staff about any last minute concerns and make a plan to check in frequently with the staff along the way.
4. Capture Memories – Did you know WE has a photo contest for the summer! All you need is your phone (or snazzy camera) and an eye for capturing your daily discoveries. These shots will multiply and before you know, you will have amassed an impressive album of your adventures. If you use social media, keep your friends and family up to date by posting about your experience (and tag us! @worldendeavors, #changeyourworld)
5. Meet People & See Stuff – Decide ahead of time to be open to talking to people and making new friendships. You can also research your weekend travel options ahead of time and plan on seeing all the museums, concerts, and festivals your new host community has to offer.
Keep in mind that the bumps of making a cultural adjustment are normal and you are not alone. The new perspective you gain from your many adaptations will be the best souvenir of your trip!
Posted by World Endeavors on May 8, 2017
World Endeavors believes that international travel has the power to change lives, broaden horizons, and deepen intercultural understanding. The world is undergoing rapid changes, with societies becoming more interconnected and environmentally aware; at the same time a more challenging global economy inspires in many a need to reach out and make a positive difference while seeking personal growth opportunities. There has never been a better time than now to travel abroad.