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Culture Shock

The impact of ‘culture shock’ can be devastating and ruin even the best planned trip; but it doesn’t have to be that way.


Too many people save up for years, plan for months and build up the excitement  leading up to a gap year, volunteering project or independent travel only to be confronted with the harsh realities on arrival; they find the cultural and environmental differences are so great they can’t cope and abandon their trip.


Culture shock affects everyone, experienced travellers have the advantage of remembering how they dealt with previous ‘bouts’ of culture shock, but they are not immune to it.


It is not something for which you can prescribe medication or for which there is a simple ‘cure’; you need to prepare for it before you leave, acknowledge it when you arrive and fight it once in-country.


Culture shock is about more than just religion, dress and behaviour; it occurs as a result of the impact on all our senses and our sensitivities when we are thrust into new unfamiliar surroundings and when we lose ‘control’ of the common elements in our lives.


Understanding culture shock and the reasons for it goes a long way to recognising the signs and symptoms and taking steps to address them.


During our Independent Travel Safety & Cultural Awareness Workshop we demonstrate the various stages of culture shock, allowing you to recognise them as they occur and put measures into place to reduce their impact.


Culture shock does not need to be a bad thing, much like ‘fear’ it has its purpose, it is a combination of our mind and body reacting to our new environment and warning us of the many changes we have to adapt to.


There are people who will tell you they don’t suffer from culture shock, they are often the ones who ‘bulldoze’ their way through travel, missing out on much and ignoring the impact they have.


Culture shock is not something to ride roughshod over, but to embrace. By working towards eliminating the shock of your arrival you will eventually benefit more from the integration which occurs as a result.


Don’t fear culture shock as that adds to its impact; understand it, accept it, control it, embrace the benefits it can bring you and you will overcome it more quickly.