Managing Culture Shock
• Talk to a Spanish Studies site staff member. They are always available to help you get through any difficult moment you may experience while abroad.
• Become involved in the local culture. Find out about the current events of your host country, take advantage of opportunities to interact with locals, become involved with a community activity, attend events that are not typically for tourists, etc. If you demonstrate an interest in learning about all aspects of the culture, the entire community will become your teacher and you will become a part of that community in the process.
• Keep an open mind. Food, religion, thought patterns, and social habits will seem strange, but allow yourself to be open to not only understand them, but to participate and try new things.
• Spend time reflecting on your daily encounters in order to deepen your understanding of your experiences and host culture. A journal is a good way to do this.
• Communicate with your hosts to develop a positive relationship. Be courteous, respectful, and aware of cultural differences and taboos.
• Practice your Spanish. Don't be afraid to make mistakes, because they are a great way to learn and can be funny, too!
• Seek out new experiences. Eat at local restaurants or pubs instead of American restaurants. Limit the time you spend with other Americans and English speakers. Avoid locations heavily visited by tourists.
• Discourage yourself from negatively comparing your host country to the US. Things will be different, which is why you came! Instead of looking at these new environments, customs, and behaviors with criticism, try to understand what makes your host country tick. Remember, it is not good, it is not bad, it is just different.
• Above all, have fun! This is the experience of a lifetime. You are not a tourist, but a participant in a global encounter with the amazing opportunity to learn about another culture, another way of life, and another person on the other side of the world.