How to deal with “Culture Shock”

Last updated on 12 Sep 2017


By Rebecca Isjwara

Studying abroad comes with a lot of new experiences until you experience the inevitable: culture shock. Dealing with a new environment involves unfamiliar habits, routines, and even how the people there greet each other. The process of facing and understanding these foreign aspects is called culture shock. It might be surprising at first, but cultural shock is just one of the many invaluable things you will learn during your studies abroad. Here are some tips to help you face it.

1. Research on your host culture

Looking up the customs and regular habits of your host culture will dampen the shock you face when facing them for the very first time. Online articles (such as ones you can find here at, movies, and even vlogger videos would help familiarize yourself with the culture you are about to live in.

2. Ensure your basic needs are met

When doing your research, ensure that you have all your basics covered, for example: safety information, medication and health aid points, and budgeting. Not having to worry about these things would lower your stress levels and dampen the shock or panic you feel when facing a new culture.

3. Surround yourself with familiarity

Bring photos, some memorabilia from back home, and maybe even a bottle of Indonesian chilli sauce or two. When living in a foreign place for the first time, some familiarity and items that remind you of home would be of comfort.

4. Get in touch with your own culture

There are numerous Indonesian societies around the world, so look up a community in your area and join their events. It’s a great opportunity to make new friends, and you could even find people to relate to that faces the same cultural shocks you do. Talking it out and discussing your newfound observations would help you see things from a new perspective, and hopefully ease out the shock.

5. Make local friends

Now that you’re easing into the new culture, it’s time to actually interact with the people in your new living space. You can start by asking a simple question or two about why they do things a certain way, and maybe you’ll learn something new and have a better understanding on their culture.

These are all basic tips as culture shock is inevitable, but it is what will bring you new perspectives in life. After all, this is one of the reasons people choose to study abroad: to be exposed to cultures you have never interacted with before. While it can be stressful, don’t forget to enjoy your stay in your host country and explore! You never know what you might learn next.