Going abroad for work or studies is not easy. So, before we get into the question of culture shock, congratulations! All of you, who took the decision to get out of your comfort zone deserve a prize! Now, it sure helped that you were excited to be in this new place full of adventure awaiting. But then it hit… the frustration stage. Homesickness. Paper work. And you start thinking, how stupid you were for taking such a big step you were not ready for? And then, especially the students among us, you experience lack of money. It’s overwhelming!
But it doesn’t have to be. The frustration stage has been identified as the second out of four culture shock stages: the honeymoon stage, the frustration stage, the adjustment stage, the acceptance stage. Today, we’ll give you some ideas how to reduce the anxiety and loneliness and self-blame of the frustration stage.
Connect with “Your” People
Especially when you move to big international cities like Madrid, it sure helps to get in touch with the community of people from your country. The reason why this helps is that you can share experiences of moving to Spain, talk about home, use your language, and thus reduce the feeling of being an alien in your new home. What is more, they can introduce you to their local friends so it will easier for you to find your place in the world. Finding those national groups tends to be very easy: you can do it on Facebook or events like Meet and Speak and other cultural activities where you get to connect with people from all over the world.
Learn the Language
It might sound like I am just trying to overwhelm you even more, but learning the local language is a great help while overcoming the frustration stage. Step by step, you will be able to understand a little more of what is going on around you, you can understand the culture, the history, the people, the food, and thus things will become easier. For example, in Spanish culture it is completely acceptable and even expected that when friends agree to meet up, both of them are late. For anyone from Central Europe, it is disrespectful, for as long as the culture is not understood.
We often travel to avoid the routine, but actually, it is a great tactic how to overcome stress from moving abroad. The moment you develop a routine, you begin to feel at home. Easy daily activities like going to university or talking are not new, unpredictable, and for some of you stressful. They are a simple routine. While this takes a month or few months, depending on who you are, once you develop this routine, you know you are coming towards the end of your frustration stage.
Travel breaks the routine so it might seem counterproductive. But in reality, travel is amazing to help you to get over the culture shock. This is because through it, you get to know the country, you get to interact with people, and you get to understand their history, which is ultimately necessary for you to talk to locals in a way that will leave you with friends.
It might sound too easy, but sometimes having fun is the best way to overcome the frustration stage of moving abroad. Do you get annoyed of the fact that everybody is late? Make fun of it with your friends and then carry on enjoying what Spain has to offer. Do you get frustrated by how loud the Spanish are? Pack your bags, disappear into the mountains, alone or with hiking groups, and enjoy yourself while taking a break from the noise. Are you tired of the long days? Make them shorter and make your nights longer! Do whatever helps you have fun… but for that you need to get to know yourself first!
Despite all those steps you can take, sometimes they don’t work. You might find yourself frustrated for a little too long. The stress from moving and the frustration of culture shock could bring you to an emotional state that you don’t want to be in but you can’t get out. In that case, it’s time to act. Get in touch with licensed English-speaking therapists who will throw a light into what you’re feeling and help you develop tools to deal with difficulties in your life.
If you are here for a semester or a year, you are likely to experience the four stages of culture shock. However how you deal with it, is completely up to you. You can let it overtake you or try one of our tips to get out of it and make the most of the time you spend here in Madrid!