How to live in other cultures without getting a culture shock

February 23, 2020
Travelling
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How to live in other cultures without getting a culture shock

You may have visited nearby countries growing up on holiday, or you may have never even left your home country. Global Grad personally was my first time out of Europe. This may unnerve you- on top of being far from home, there is also the culture change.

Culture shock can hit you at any time. When we visited new countries, I’d have a few days where I was excited and then it’d hit- I’m going to be staying in this unfamiliar place for a month. Culture shock doesn’t necessarily hit everyone and will do so in different ways, but here are a few suggestions I can make in reducing the effect.

RESEARCH BEFOREHAND

You’ll be able to access the Global Grad itinerary on the website and will have it sent to you in person if you sign up to a semester, so you know where you’ll be visiting. Why not have a sneak peek?

This will be helpful as you can see the main sights or just scroll around the city through Google maps. However, don’t take this too seriously as you may find being there seems different, it’s just a good insight. The team at Global Grad HQ can send you the names of the accommodations you’ll be staying in so you can check those out too!

Also, check out some vlogs or blogs. These can be from travellers so you can see the places from the perspective of someone similar to you, or a local blog may be able to teach you some tips and tricks.

KEEP IN CONTACT WITH BACK HOME

If you alienate yourself from home, you may feel even more stranded. You most likely share some sort of social media with them, be it Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp or even emails. This way, you can let them know how you’re doing, keep up with them and remember that you haven’t suddenly gone to a rogue planet without them.

FIND SOME SIMILARITIES!

Globalisation is a thing, guys. It’s pretty much guaranteed you’ll be able to find a brand or something from home unless you diverge from the Global Grad team to somewhere off the beaten track. Heck, Malaysia even has Tesco!

If you’re not into jumping straight in, ease yourself in. If you’re a fussy eater, for example, you’ll easily be able to find Western food somewhere in the study cities before trying out the local delicacies. And no, it’s not all insects and weird-looking fruits (unless you want it to be!), you can live off noodles, burgers and rice if you want to.

LEARN SOME LINGO

South-East Asian’s are very friendly to tourists, but as soon as I said hello or thank you to them in their native tongue, a lot of them seemed to gain a lot more respect and became chattier. You may only know a few of the thousands of words in their vocabulary, but it can mean a lot- the 25 most used words in English make up one third of our written word. This will help you feel less alienated and could be a great stepping stone to making new friends.

MAKE SOME FRIENDS BEFOREHAND

Again, social media can come into play here. Whether it’s finding locals or getting to know your fellow Global Grads, knowing you’ll not be alone when you’re in your new country can be a big relief. I met another Global Grad in Abu Dhabi on my way to Thailand and it was very reassuring.

There are plenty of ways you can get to know people in the countries you’re staying in- try a travel group or a group related to the city you’re visiting. If you have a certain interest, even better! You can find like minded people.

EMBRACE CHANGE

Too much change in one go can be chaotic but Global Grad is a great way to ease you into travel if you see it being a big part of your life. You’ll stay with the group for as much as you want during your semester and the experienced Location Managers know what each location is like and what to expect. You still have a bubble of safety you can go to but can be as independent as you so wish. I was tentative at first but by the end made some solo trips.

Feel free to send past students a message. I personally have had a few of you message me asking for my opinion on the program and specific questions related to the semester. There’s obviously going to be a few differences each time, but we can give you an overview of what to expect.

About the author

Jasmin Dawling is one of Global Grad’s January 2019 students and is completing a full-time Bachelor’s degree with the Open University in International Studies. While this is her first time formally blogging, she has had plenty of writing experience in the past, from novel writing since the age of six to working on the school newspaper. Apart from seeing the sights of South East Asia and working on her degree, Jasmin spends most of her time either procrastinating or writing down her novel ideas, be it on her travelling-inspired new ideas or the 7-part series she’s been toying with for almost ten years.

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