If you’re an international teacher feeling overwhelmed and disoriented in your new country, you’re experiencing something called “culture shock.” Don’t worry, this is normal! Culture shock happens when you’re exposed to a new culture and have to adjust to a new way of life. It can be hard, but you can get over culture shock and do well in your new environment if you know what to expect and plan ahead.
Culture shock can have different effects on different people, but some common ones are feeling homesick, feeling alone or cut off from your surroundings, having trouble communicating with others, and finding it hard to adapt to new customs and traditions. These feelings are normal and, to some extent, should be expected, but if they last or get in the way of your daily life, you should get help.
Overcoming the Challenges of Culture Shock as an International Teacher
Being proactive and taking steps to adjust to your new environment is one of the best ways to get over culture shock. Here are some tips to help you navigate this process:
- Learn about the culture of your new country before you arrive. This can help you understand your new home’s customs, traditions, and social norms, which can make it easier to adjust once you arrive.
- Learn the local language. Even if you don’t become fluent, communicating with others in their own language can help you feel more connected to your new community.
- Connect with other international teachers. Being part of a community of people adjusting to life in a new country can provide valuable support and camaraderie.
- Explore your new community. Take the time to get to know your new neighborhood, visit local shops and restaurants, and participate in community events. This can help you feel more connected to your new home.
- Stay in touch with loved ones back home. Maintaining a connection with your friends and family is essential, and technology makes it easy to do so. Schedule regular phone calls or video chats to stay in touch and alleviate homesickness.
- Seek support if you need it. Don’t be afraid to seek support if you struggle to adjust. Talk to a trusted friend or teacher, or think about getting help from a mental health professional.
It’s normal to experience some culture shock when living and working in a new country. By being proactive and taking steps to adjust to your new environment, you can overcome this challenge and thrive in your new role as an international teacher. Remember that adjusting to a new culture takes time, and be patient with yourself as you navigate this process. With a little effort and support, you can make your new home a place where you feel happy, fulfilled, and connected.