Culture shock doesn't sound pleasant - and it doesn't often feel pleasant when you're going through it. But it can have a powerful (and often positive) impact on the rest of your life.
These 4 surprising benefits prove that culture shock is good for you.
1. Culture shock breaks you out of your routine
We all have our daily ways of doing things. It's neither good nor bad, but sometimes it can feel stale. The good news is, travel can change almost every aspect of that daily routine because other countries don't work exactly like your home country.
If you study abroad, for instance, you might find that wakeup times, recreation activities, or daily meals look nothing like what you're used to. If you're set in your ways, these changes to your daily routine can be really jarring. If you're flexible in your outlook, then you might enjoy the challenge of finding a new place to get coffee, for instance.
The break from your daily routine can broaden your horizons by showing you what else is possible....and what you might do differently to have the life you want.
2. Culture shock builds self-confidence
Travel is disorienting, especially if you don't speak the language well. You've got to sink or swim. As you experience your study abroad, you will make a few mistakes and learn from them. You will probably find out that the consequences aren't as bad as you imagined when you feared, say, ordering the wrong item due to language skills.
What's more, most of the time you'll find you will be able to go where you need to go, relying on the help of strangers and building your language skills and travel smarts along the way. By the end of your stay, don't be surprised if you are not the same person you were when you left. You're more worldly and self-confident as a result of the challenges you overcame.
3. Culture shock leads to friends from all over the world
As the old saying goes, strangers are simply friends that you haven't yet met.
In the early stages of culture shock, people often feel lonely and disoriented as they acclimate to a new country. The best antidote to these blues is to socialize with others - friendly locals or fellow students!
Exploring a new city together, you will soon break down cultural boundaries and come call these people your friends. Travel often and you will soon find friends all over the world, who may be eager to host you on a visit to their home country.
4. Culture shock keeps you interesting
Studying abroad keeps you interesting - both because it gives you a ready supply of "funny stories" and because it's constantly exposing you to new places and ideas.
While sampling the culture in places you travel, you'll learn about international styles of dance and music, local artists, foreign histories, unique foods, and so much more. This can lead to new hobbies and interests that keep you connected to the places you traveled.
You never know what new concepts and ideas you are exposed to as a result of travel that really come to influence your personality.
In the early stages of culture shock, it may feel like you will never acclimate to daily life in your new home community. Hang in there and one day you will be surprised to find that you are comfortable with your new routine and connected to others in your community.