How to overcome culture shock

Have you ever met someone from a different country and thought to yourself: “Wauw, we are from two different worlds”? This is exactly what I thought to myself everyday for the first month I lived in Texas. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love texans! I do! They are just from a completely different world than I am. Which is why you should never discuss religion or politics with a texan unless you agree on everything.

I used to get into these huge fights with my host dad (whom I love very much!) about things like abortion and religion. To be fair, I was a sixteen year old scandinavian girl who had just moved across the world by myself, not knowing what to expect from this year, not knowing anybody and not even speaking my own language. This was a bit of a culture shock as it is. Specifically Texas was a culture shock. Everything in Texas is just different. If I had moved to New York City or Los Angeles, it wouldn’t have been completely different to the big city life I was used to, except for everything being so much bigger. But I didn’t. I moved to Fort Worth, Texas where horses at the gas station is normal and everything from the food to the distances are bigger. This became the best year of my life so far. The only problem was that none of us was open-minded enough. Of course I was as open-minded as I possibly could be at the time, and my host family probably tried too, however we still thought that the way we each did things was the right way to do it. And this thought caused some problems in the beginning. As my exchange organisation Explorius used to say:

It’s not right, it’s not wrong, it’s just different.

This quote is most likely what changed my way of thinking. I quickly learned to accept the fact that my way of doing things was just one of many. This taught me to look at different problems from different perspectives and try to understand why other people might have different opinions than I do, for instance when it comes to politics. I now understand the way an eighty year old conservative Texan thinks and why, but that does not mean that I have to agree with him. If you travel the world with a closed mind, thinking the way you do things is the right and only way to do it, you will not get the full experience. If you truly want to experience another culture or country like the locals experience it, you need to be curious. If you are curious and ask questions as to why the locals might think like they do and not the way you think, then they will open up to you and tell you. This is when you get the full experience.

This meeting between two different worlds is what makes travel so special. This experience teaches you to be open-minded when going to other countries and experiencing their cultures. Which is why my best advice to someone who has gotten a bit of a culture shock is to be open-minded and curious. This will help you so much when traveling. It will be the ticket you need to experience the culture of a country like the locals do, and to understand why they love their country. Just be open-minded!

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24 thoughts on “How to overcome culture shock

  1. I agree when you you said”This meeting between two different worlds is what makes travel so special” This is exactly why I like you travel. When I first went to France I notice so many changes from what I was used to. It was weird at first but then I enjoy some of there cultures, I know do these things at home.

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  2. Despite Americans speak my language (I’m English) it still surprises me how so very different the American ‘way’ is to us Brits! So I can well imagine a year there showed you a lot of differences, but isn’t it just fab that we are all so different – it’s what makes the world such a colourful place!

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  3. I think this is the beauty of traveling. I salute you for moving around the world at a young age. I am sure you have an awesome understanding of cultures and how they mix (and sometimes don’t)! Crazy you would move to Fort Worth of all places later on but Texas hold a special place in my heart 🙂

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    • I know, people always looked weird at me when I told them where I was moving 🙂 But I did learn a lot, just from the fact that Texas was the state I moved to. And I learned a lot about cultures and what happens when you mix them. But I love Texas very much and it has become my second home.


  4. I am American and while I have felt out of place while traveling I think I get the most what I would call culture shock traveling my own country because I think people should be more like me. Granted I grew up in California and have lived in Portland OR and NYC since then but still!!!

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  5. “If you are curious and ask questions as to why the locals might think like they do and not the way you think, then they will open up to you and tell you.” This is so right. And not just with people from different cultures, people with different opinions in general. We would all get along much better if we presented a bit more curiosity and tried to understand why people think the way they do. Great post!

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  6. I actually think that I’m more accepting of different viewpoints when I’m travelling, since I expect other cultures to have their own ideas. But it’s when I’m surrounded by people similar to me that I’m shocked at our differences. Everyone really is unique with their upbringing and life, so differences are everywhere!

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