Cross Cultural Adjustment Tips
Here are some specific tips for adjusting to a new culture:
1) Listen and observe. Since there are new rules and norms that may be unfamiliar to you, listen carefully to verbal communication and observe non-verbal communication carefully and try to put them in proper context.
2) Ask questions. You should not assume that you always know what is going on or that you understand what you hear or see. Most people will be very helpful if you need an explanation of something.
3) Try not to evaluate or judge. You may see many things different from your own culture. Most customs, habits, and ideas are simply different from what you have known before. Also remember though that your own behavior and customs will also seem “foreign” to people living in your host culture.
4) Be open and curious. To experience a new culture and to learn from it, it is important to be open to new experiences. Relax and try to think of it as a new adventure and be curious about the way things are done in a new place. The more you explore, the more you will learn.
5) Exercise a sense of humor. It is very likely that you will make mistakes as you explore a new culture, and if you can laugh at them yourself, it will help you to learn and others will respond with friendliness. Also remember that if someone remarks on your ethnicity or makes a generalized statement this may be from a lack of education. Rather than getting angry, patiently educate them about yourself and your culture.
6) Expect some anxiety and frustration. Learning to function in a new culture is not easy, and it is natural to feel some anxiety and frustration. If you recognize that this is a normal part of the experience, you may be able to deal with them more effectively.
7) Become involved. The more effort you put into acclimation, the more you will learn from your experience. You should make an effort to meet people, establish friendships, get involved in activities, and learn about the people and their culture. Various ways to do this are by participating in cross cultural activities, sponsored trips/excursions, or becoming active with other campus groups.
Adapting to a new culture is an on-going process. To reduce confusion or prevent misunderstanding, do not hesitate to ask questions about customs, practices, or values. Communication is the key to understanding. Don't worry about your accent. If you don't understand, make sure you ask for an explanation of clarification. Remember, asking for assistance or an explanation is not a sign of weakness. It just makes sense.