Culture shock was something I knew about but never really understood what it was or what it felt like to experience. Now I understand it – it can be very frustrating at times and make you want to retreat to your own culture and never come back.
For me, culture shock was coming to the realization that other people do not live like me, do not have the same values and traditions, and do not even listen to the same music as I do. Culture shock was being frustrated with grocery shopping because nothing is your own language, trying to communicate with people who do not speak your language either, or even trying to take the bus.
While it is overwhelming and frustrating, that doesn’t mean it’s not manageable or even a bad thing. To cope with culture shock, I’ve learned a few things. When things get frustrating, just go with it, laugh it off, or simply smile. When I grocery shop, for instance, I just try different things and see what they are and eventually I learned a few words for finding the things I need. Over time, grocery shopping became second nature because I learned what was what and I picked up on the words. As well as communicating with other people, I practiced the phrases I needed to get around and the words I needed to know and with some time communicating and getting around was a lot easier.
It’s also important to realize that you are in someone else’s home country now and that they might be just as frustrated trying to communicate with you but most importantly we need to put the tourist vibe aside. What I mean by this is not letting your culture impose on the one you’re in now. Learning and immersing yourself in this new culture is what you should really focus on. Just learn and go with the flow, be someone who invests time into the culture, have an open mind, and let that culture leave an imprint on you. Since I’ve started doing this I feel a lot more at home here in Klaipeda. I feel more part of the culture and the community as well. The more I learn about Lithuania, the most I learn to love it.
Culture shock is by no means a bad thing if you go about it the right way!