Tips to Overcoming Culture Shock in Palestine: When visiting a foreign country, it is common to experience culture shock. Living in a new place with a new culture and new, unfamiliar surroundings can be overwhelming for some people. Being immersed in a society different from your own will require adapting to new social customs and behaviors. This process is fun and exciting for some travelers, and very uncomfortable for others. To varying degrees, everyone experiences culture shock. And when you go back to your home country, it is common to experience reverse culture shock! However, with the tips we are providing, we hope you will feel empowered to overcome the initial culture shock when you arrive in Palestine.
Our first tip is to always keep an open mind. Stay observant and do your best to learn the local values. Palestinians, for instance, view time very differently than Westerners. Westerners are used to things being punctual and happening at the exact time called for. 12:00 means 12:00. However, time is more fluid in Palestine and it is common for Palestinians to show up “late,” which is really right on time here. When it comes to things like time, remember to keep an open mind. If someone is late, they are not being disrespectful. The culture is simply different.
Another tip to overcoming culture shock is to get acquainted with the Arabic language before your arrival. If you don’t know any Arabic, do not fear. You can find your way around Palestine with ease without knowing a lot of Arabic. However, it can be beneficial to learn some basic conversational phrases before you arrive to decrease the language shock. In addition, learning about the Palestinian culture and cultural etiquette before your arrival will help you. When you do arrive, know that it is okay to ask questions. As you meet people, feel freedom to ask about questions regarding the culture, area, etc. Finally, keep a sense of humor. If you find yourself in a cultural gaffe, recognize that the locals know you are a foreigner and it is okay to make mistakes. Palestinians will appreciate your effort and have plenty of grace for you. Even with your mistakes, you will be learning along the way!
Keeping an open mind, getting familiar with the language, learning cultural etiquette, and maintaining a sense of humor will go a long way in helping you overcome culture shock. Most of all, remember that culture shock doesn’t last forever. Initially, everything will be new – the place, the culture, the values, the food, the people. However, the shock subsides the more time you spend in a place because you grow in familiarity with the area, language, and culture. At first, it is okay to feel overwhelmed. Everything you hear, see, taste, and smell will be new. The uncomfortable is not something to run from, but rather, embrace!