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Travel Stress & Culture Shock

Cultural Adjustment

All international travelers experience some form of cultural adjustment when they arrive at their destination. This adjustment can be minor or quite difficult, and it can come in a variety of forms, from extreme excitement to feelings of anxiety or frustration. Everyone's experience is different. 

Cultural adjustment is a process, and it often involves a series of ups and downs that can occur sequentially. The intensity and duration of this process can be tied to factors like how long you will be abroad, your expectations of your host culture, the similarity of your destination country to your home country, and how immersed in your host culture you become. 

These feelings are normal, and they usually pass with time. If you find yourself experiencing any of these feelings, here are some tips that may help: 

  • Take care of your physical health. Getting enough sleep, eating properly and recovering from jetlag will all have a tremendous effect on the way you feel.  
  • Get involved and be social! New friendships can help you better understand members of your host culture. 
  • Give yourself permission to have these feelings, and be patient with yourself. Everyone experiences cultural adjustment differently, and some feelings may come in waves or cycles.  
  • Learn as much about your host culture as you can. 
  • Remember that experiencing cultural adjustment is a growth experience- although it might be difficult, it can truly strengthen your intercultural knowledge and competence. 

If you wish to set up a counseling appointment while you are abroad to discuss these feelings, AXA Assistance can help locate a provider. Click here for more information on this and other ways to manage your mental health abroad.