How to cope with cultural adjustment

Traveling is the most enriching and eye opening thing anyone can do but that is not to say it comes with out its difficulties. One hard thing to cope with is coming to terms with cultural adjustment. Globally cultures vary considerably – moving from place to place, this will become apparent. For example, I struggled going from the slow paced, relaxed, Caribbean beach life to the busy, a million mile an hour New York city. It was also hard going from busy, lively, boisterous Mexico city to the quiet, relaxed colonial town of Oaxaca. Where ever you go, there will be a different culture to the one you are used to or know. This may be in the form of traditional foods, civilians with alternative mannerisms or a whole new language to deal with. While this can make you feel isolated, you have to remember that it is why you began your journey in the first place. New, exciting and unique ways of living are fascinating and you can learn so much from them. My advice here, is to take everything as it comes and get fully emersed in the new culture. If you understand, enjoy and revel in the different ways of living you will not fear them but start to love them.

Once you have fallen in love with all these different ways of living, how do you return home, back to your old life? This cultural readjustment can be tricky too. However, if you go about it right, you can avoid the after travel blues. How? You may ask. Well, if anything traveling will make you appreciate what you have back home. It is inevitable that as well as beauty you will see poverty, deprivation and hardship. Going back to your comfortable home is something you are lucky to be able to do. Remember the feeling of having a clean room to live in and an outfit to wear which is not only clean but also not the same one you have been wearing for past few months. You can have a hot shower, candle lit bath and spend as long as you want in it. More importantly, when you come out you will feel clean. Then of course there is your family and friends – seeing them again will be incredible.

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Okay, so what happens when the immediate thrill of luxuries and welcome home parties fade out?

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Its time to keep your life exciting without having to jet off again. You could get involved with societies, charities, new friendship circles, which keep your inner traveller thriving. There is no need to stop exploring new regions, I guarantee there are places on your doorstep you are yet to visit that are wonderful. Keeping in touch with fellow travelers, will help to keep the community alive too. You could always learn a new language or keep up the one you began picking up on your trip (see previous post about learning  a language in three months). Take up coach surfing – open your home to other travelers and keep learning about different cultures, countries and ways of life with out having to pay for an expensive flight.

However, avoiding feeling low after traveling, is easier said than done, it is normal to miss the adventure, the carefree and relaxed way of life. Now you are back home people will ask you what’s next? Enquire about your career aspirations and life goals. When you were on the road, you didn’t know where you would be tomorrow, in a week let alone in life. It may feel like the past several months never even happened. Everything back home will remain the same, while you will have seen and experienced so much. Slotting back in to normality is bound to be a tricky adjustment after you have changed so much. It’s important to remember this is a normal phenomena, you are not alone. Focus on spending time out, go for a walk alone, sit quietly and reminisce about your adventure and look forward to your future plans what ever they may be.

Your personality, character and feelings can be heavily influenced by your surroundings, the people you associate yourself with and how you processes situations you find yourself in. While home, all these variables will be different to what they were when you were alone. However, hard it is, try to keep up the character traits you developed while away – your carefree relaxed, calm, open minded spirit. Remember you survived months away in foreign lands solo traveling, so you can survive anything. View this cultural readjustment as another one of the challenges and character building exercises that comes with travel. While our surroundings affect our feelings they do not dictate them. Remember how lucky you have been to explore the globe and appreciate what you have in the comfort of your own home.

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