Culture/Transitional Shock

It is totally normal, but experienced differently by each individual.

Transition shock is a state of loss and disorientation predicated by a change in one's familiar environment which requires adjustment. There are many symptoms of transition shock, some which include:
  • desire for home and old friends
  • homesickness
  • boredom
  • withdrawal
  • excessive concern over cleanliness and health
  • feelings of helplessness
  • irritability and anger
  • moody
  • glazed stare
  • physiological stress reactions (i.e rashes, getting sick)
  • getting "stuck" on one thing
  • excessive sleep
  • compulsive eating/drinking/weight gain
  • stereotyping host nationals
  • hostility towards host country

Click below to read about the strategies of coping with culture shock.

Strategies for Coping

Focus on what you can control.

When we are suffering from culture shock, we usually feel out of control. So, don't spend energy on things you cannot change.

Engage yourself in the new culture and work: keep busy

Accept your situation as much as possible, by keeping busy and making friends

Don't invest major energy in minor problems.

We make "mountains out of molehills" even more quickly in cross-cultural situations than we do in our own culture.

Tackle major stressors head on.

Don't avoid things.

Ask for help

Create a wide support network as quickly as you can in your target culture. This can include expatriates like yourself as well as people of the local culture.


Go for a run. Do yoga. Exercise will help to calm your mind, and flow your energy.

(Partially sourced from: Transition Shock: Putting Culture Shock in Perspective by Janet M. Bennett)

Be happy and excited for this opportunity, and don’t expect things to be the same as your home country. Foreigners who follow this advice cope well with culture shock.

When you survive culture shock, you’ll find that you have a fresh outlook on your own culture and its roots, and will gain new ways of understanding yourself.

And always remember, what you are feeling is normal, and will pass.

Thailand Volunteer! - by The Mirror Foundation