Some folks flit around the world without a care – moving to Germany, California, Paris, Okayama, even moving to Switzerland to herd Ibex through the Alpine winters – they’re fine! It’s all about the ride apparently, but not everyone finds the ride quite so smooth.
The strange quality of culture shock is that you never know who might be affected by it, or in what context. Perhaps you’ve seen everything the length and breadth of Europe has to offer – enjoyed a few years in Barcelona, moving to Germany for a few months to indulge the Stuttgart automotive passion, a year in Hammerfest; fast-forward to Asia and you’re struck down by the unexpected blight of culture shock.
The signs of culture shock can be very frustrating to single out without the help of someone not suffering from it. Symptoms (although culture shock isn’t a disease or illness) often emerge due to jet-lag, general tiredness and so on. Essentially, travellers feel out of their depth, invisible, lost and scared.
The fantastic thing about culture shock is that is tends to pass quickly and can help you understand some of the more central fundamentals to keep in mind next time you travel. It’s based around the sensation of fear, which usually culminates in one of three emotional responses – rejecting the new culture (seeking out familiar traits), embracing the new culture (rejecting native habits) or a bespoke mix of native and foreign (the most common response). Never be put off moving to Switzerland, France, or any of Europe’s other fascinating spots simply because of culture shock; usually the best remedies are patience, organisation, communication and pleasure.