The best thing to do is to be aware of culture shock and how to deal with it. If you’re prepared for what to expect it will make overcoming culture shock much easier. Having pictures from home, talking to people in your native language, talking a walk in the park, or even sleeping can all help with culture shock. Overseas-Exile has some interesting statistics about expats who leave foreign countries before their contracts are up. It seems like the more different that culture is from yours, the more likely you are to leave.
Learning the language is probably one of the most important steps you can take to getting accustomed to your host country. If people speak English where you work, you’ll probably face less problems. You will still have to deal with cultural issues, such as greetings, time, personal space, or dealing with co-workers and management.
Paperwork is often less organised in other countries. If you have to get a work visa, be prepared to run around to lots of different places to get notarisations, legalisations, and translations. You’ll have to be a patient person to deal with all this paper pushing, though it may help to think that all this paperwork allows someone to feed their family. Be patient, smile, and bring something to do to pass the time. If you’re nice to those who are helping you, they’ll be nice to you and more likely to help you out.
Don’t try to call attention to yourself. If you don’t speak the language of the host country, that’s fine, but try to make an effort to at least learn the basics. If you have to speak English, don’t shout or speak to people like they’re stupid. Use simple words and gestures. You can red more about fitting in at respectful travel.
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This article has been published in the Turkish University Press.
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