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VINJABOND /// JOHN V CAINASK is a series of posts answering questions asked by readers about vagabonding. Contact me to ask your own or view all ASK posts.

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QUESTION:

I’ve lived in America all my life and never left until I started travel backpacking through Europe for the past 2 months. Because of the similarities, there wasn’t really much culture shock but I’ll be flying in to Bangkok soon.

I’ve never been in any culture like Thailand and kind of scared of the shock.

How do you deal with culture shock?

Lori Aleksiewicz
Prospect, Connecticut

ANSWER:

Pura Luhur Uluwatu Temple Festival in Indonesia // Vagabonding

Instead of perceiving culture shock as something to “deal with”, try to view it as something to experience.

Culture shock occurs in the first few days of being in an extremely different culture relative to the traveler’s own and can be a very intense and nerving experience. So it’s understandable why most fear it. But you shouldn’t.

It’s comparable to extreme or adrenaline sports. So if you embrace culture shock, it can actually be a thrilling and exciting experience. Don’t hide from it or wait days until you feel adjusted to the new culture, just get out there and take it all in from the start.

In fact, I look forward to the “culture shock phase” whenever I get to a new country or city.

It’s quite a feeling that never gets old but can only happen once for every culture. So think of culture shock as a positive somewhat-once-in-a-lifetime experience.

How would you deal with culture shock?




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5 COMMENTS ///

  1. Ellis in Paris

    Loving your concept of culture shock, treating it like a good thing is a new one but I suppose it does make sense. Why be so sad about culture shock? Easier said than done but all mindset. Travel on brother!

  2. Freeza

    Good advice John! Culture shock could indeed be awesome if you think of it with an open mind. But it took me a while to see it that way. I remember in the begining of my travels I would basically hide in my hotel or hostel for a few days until I was “ready” to go out and really explore – wasting all that time!

  3. AMERIKISS

    I see what your saying but I still “hide” in my hotel room for the first few days of entering a new country, or even city. :(


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