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(S1E2) Unpacking culture shock

Let’s explore culture shock, how it impacts our mental health and what we can do to overcome it.

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Culture shock is a challenging phenomenon that individuals often experience when they move abroad. It often leads to an internal conflict and confusion, leaving one feeling completely out of their comfort zone. In this episode, I provide an in-depth view of culture shock, sharing my experiences of migration, the pleasant surprises, and the frustrating struggles that have shaped my understanding of this phenomenon.

The severity of culture shock largely depends on the circumstances at the time of migration and what awaits in the new country, and its impact is usually experienced on a continuum. On one end, one can be pleasantly surprised by local habits and customs. On the other end, the frustrations and irritations that come with integrating into a new culture can lead to feelings of failure.

An essential aspect of culture shock is the internal conflict and confusion we experience abroad. It is about the struggles of making sense of who we are in a new reality where everything feels out of place. It’s about the effort we put into integrating into another culture, trying not to lose ourselves in the process. It also involves dealing with loneliness and boredom as we try to figure out how to create a support network from scratch.

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In this episode, I share practical guidance and strategies to cope with culture shock from my experience of moving abroad a few times over the past two decades. These include preparing adequately before moving, building a support network as soon as possible, maintaining connections with loved ones back home, creating routines, learning the local language, and finding ways to have fun. All these practices help make the migration process easier and contribute to better mental health.

Anxiety and depression are common among people who migrate. The stress that comes with uprooting oneself can affect our immune system and lead to physical symptoms. However, everyone has a unique way of coping with shock and change. Some turn to substances and alcohol, while others may take on more responsibilities to regain control.

In conclusion, navigating the turbulence of culture shock requires a certain level of mental flexibility. You can learn more about how to overcome culture shock by listening to the episode.

Want to read more about this topic?

→ Navigating culture shock between disorientation and adaptation

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