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Avoid culture shock!

A phase of euphoria in the first weeks in your new home is often followed (especially during longer stays abroad) by a small crisis where you feel out of place, misunderstood or alone - so-called "culture shock".

Some tips can aid in avoiding this, and can help you feel at home abroad and benefit the most from it interculturally:

How would a shared apartment work?

Integration helps: A shared apartment with local students can be a particularly interesting option for students or young professionals. There is always life in the flat, and it keeps you from exclusively communicating with people from your home country and from only speaking your mother tongue.

Calling home?
Naturally, talking to friends and relatives back home is a great thing. However, hour-long conversations, such as through Skype, often make immersion in the host culture more difficult and can turn you into a loner in the worst case. It is thus best to spend time with friends instead of nurturing homesickness.

Take up offers for free time
Use networking opportunities: regular meetings, invitations to sports games or other hobbies and excursions provide a good chance to learn people from the host country and form friendships.

Arrive earlier
Provided there is the opportunity, take some time and arrive before starting your job in order to acquaint yourself in peace with the host culture, a new climate, the local amenities and other unique aspects.

Do not put pressure on yourself. Nobody expects you to perform brilliant achievements after a short amount of time, or to be invited over by friends every day. Take some time for setting up contacts and enjoy the challenge of this one-time experience.

Be aware that we are very strongly shaped by socialization in our home country. What to us are entirely normal actions or attitudes can lead to great misunderstanding or bemusement in other cultures (e.g. the direct communication/direct critique often practiced in Germany). Try to observe a lot and question your own approaches. Then you will profit the most from your residency abroad.

Make some intercultural preparation
Take the opportunities for intercultural preparation. Along with exercises, there is also a lot of specialized literature on the subject.

Drafted in cooperation with BDAE www.bdae.com