Going from one culture to another brings many changes and experiences. Something as simple as eye contact can lead to a variety of situations depending on where someone is. Eventually, things can come pretty quickly causing people to feel a large number of emotions in different situations. When does the feeling hit? How long does it last? How do I deal with it when it happens? Answering these questions are near impossible to do as each person deals with these things in their own ways. There are a few tips to keep in mind when it finally happens to help process everything.
When Does Culture Shock Happen?
This question can yield a lot of answers. Some feel it as soon as they enter the airport. Others may take a few months for it to kick in. it can be anything as small as taking shoes off before entering a house, or correct use of chopsticks at the dinner table. No matter how big or small, everyone should try to keep a cool head and think of it as a learning experience. Instead of constantly comparing and contrasting everything one could see the similarities between the cultures. Trying to understand why things are the way they are. When you think of things in this way, it becomes less of a big deal and becomes normal everyday life.
How Long Does it Last?
This is also a tricky question. Some people, due to their cultural backgrounds, may not be able to accept the new customs they must do. No matter how much they try, it still doesn’t sit right with them. Others may feel strongly about something at first, but can gradually come to accept the new ways in time. It is up to each person to come to their own understanding. Even after living in the country for a long time, one can have certain things that they constantly react to. The best thing to do is to take the information in slowly and try to work through it. Finding what exactly is causing the stress should be identified first. Working from there should help you slowly come to terms with the new lifestyle. Try out a little at a time and eventually the feelings will subside. Once again it will take everyone different amounts of time to process it all.
How do I Deal With it When it Happens?
The first thing to remember is to try to stay calm. It’s easier said than done, but it is very important. Controlling the emotional build is a hard task to complete. It could lead to bad interactions with locals which will make it harder on you while living in Japan. It can happen anywhere at any time, and it is perfectly normal to feel that way when it does happen. Give it time to sink in that even though it is different, it’s ok and won’t be the end. Talk to friends and family, or talk to your employer if you don’t know anyone. Trying to keep it all inside and deal with it alone isn’t always the best solution. There are a lot of social networking groups that can be used, and some have meetups in many areas of Japan. If it seems like it is just too much, even after trying to come to terms, it may be time to try something else.
The best way to alleviate strong culture shock is to do some research before moving to a new country. It may take away from some of the discovery, but it will temper expectations and give people a chance to see what they are getting into beforehand. Doing this also makes the transition to a new culture smoother overall. It allows people to truly see what is going to be the most different before getting blindsided by the changes.
Japan may look like a completely different world, but it is still made of people doing everyday things. There are far more things it has in common with the rest of the world. Once people move past the veil that they have created for the country, it becomes a much more normal place.