Experiencing Culture Shock in Palestine : “When I first travelled to Hebron, Palestine I experienced some culture shock. This is perfectly normal, and many travellers feel varying degrees of culture shock or disorientation, when they go abroad for more than just a holiday. The unfamiliarity of the sights, smells, foods, and customs of new surroundings often take some getting used to before you can adapt” Annabel from the UK said. It is important to understand culture shock in order to deal with it, and thus have a more enjoyable experience abroad.
What is culture shock? Recognising the symptoms
Culture shock is defined as a sense of confusion, uncertainty and sometimes anxiety that people experience when “exposed to an alien culture or environment without adequate preparation”. It is generally understood to have a few phases, as people adjust to their new environment and norms. Firstly,m there may be the initial excitement when you first arrive, and then a period of confusion and worry. These feelings of anxiety may yo-yo up and down, but usually this feeling will subside once you start to adapt to new cultures and routines.
How to overcome culture shock in Palestine
- Learn as much as you can about your host culture and how it differs from your own culture, with regards to what is considered polite and rude especially. Read up about the country you’re travelling to on the internet, in guidebooks, or talk to people who have visited before. As differences can sometimes be quite subtle, this may require some self-reflection about your own culture, but once you understand the reasons for the differences between cultures, you become more tolerant. There may be superficial differences such as accent and appearance, but also differences in beliefs and values.
- Talk to other students about how you feel, and share your experiences of this new culture. If you can also stay in regular contact with family and friends from home they may also be able to support you.
- Try not to be shy, and make local friends. They can help answer your questions about your host culture, and keeping active and meeting new people will help you to get over culture shock. Ask questions and don’t judge.
- Rather than withdraw and isolate yourself, push yourself to explore new places and do things you would never do at home. Remind yourself how lucky you are to be able to travel and experience new things.
- Take a break. If you are finding things hard, maybe do something comforting, such as cooking a meal from home, watching a familiar television show or reading a favourite book.
- Try to learn the local language. This will help you to feel more included, and will help you to understand the local culture.
Travelling abroad or to Palestine isn’t always easy, but once you tackle the discomfort of culture shock, you will realise that the good nearly always outweigh the bad.