For the hypochondriacs among us, WebMD covers a fair amount of ailments we might feasibly incur.
Culture shock didn’t make the cut.
Yet, the term gets thrown around as if it’s a common and treatable issue, like air sickness or jet lag.
I’ll be honest, before my first ever trip abroad, I did not understand what this mythical culture shock was. I envisioned myself experiencing real shock — body tensed up, a look of horror upon my face, not speaking –– the works. As if moving to a new country for a few months would cause all my functions to freeze up, rendering me nonfunctional.
So, you can imagine my surprise when I learned that culture shock isn’t any of those things. In fact, it doesn’t really resemble anything you would call your family doctor about.
Ultimately, culture shock looks different to every person, but some symptoms might look familiar to frequent travelers and nomads.
So, what is culture shock? And what is the antidote?
It’s 11 AM on a Sunday morning –– hangover o'clock. You could really go for some waffles. And eggs. And sausage. Covered in syrup. Not to mention bottomless coffee brought to you every five minutes.
Visions of your favorite hometown diner fill your head. It’s got a name like Ruby’s or Charlie’s or Stan’s.
You roll over in bed and peer out the window –– to see a skyline full of buildings and signs with another language written on them. You’re in a place where cutesy diners like the ones your stomach is calling out for don’t exist.
You slump back down under the covers and daydream of home.
Perpetual travelers and nomads often come to a head with the homesickness beast here and there. Sometimes it’s the yearning for a particular person or place. Other times, it’s food.
Even though you can’t make that breakfast place of childhood appear out of thin air, there are some things you can do to quell the pangs when they come a-knockin’:
When I was getting ready for my move to South America , many friends, coworkers, and family members did not hesitate to weigh in on my big decision.
In fact, they offered their worth-their-weight-in gold thoughts with me on a daily basis.
Most of them sounded like this:
“Oh honey, do those things while you still can –– before you’re saddled with a husband and kids!”
“That sounds amazing. I wish I could do that, but I have bills and responsibilities.”
“Enjoy your adventure! You’ll eventually have to come back to the real world.”
Real world. Real world. Real world.
But what is the real world, really?
Life abroad looks like paradise.
Just look at any travel magazine, hostel website, airline advertisement or [choose your own propaganda].
You’re promised gorgeous sunsets, sandy beaches, and delectable cuisine, with new, lifelong friends surrounding you at every turn. Laughs, smiles, and warmth abound. In no time, your new culture will embrace you, treat you as family, and give you a home away from home.
As you may have guessed already, reality paints a very different picture.
Before the specifics, a definition: living abroad means living abroad.
Not studying, not travelling, not a monthlong volunteering stint. Living abroad, generally, involves a job, an address, and settling –– at least for several months –– in another country.
Maybe you moved somewhere with a spouse, friend, or organization. Maybe it’s just you and a one-way ticket. Maybe you have extended family there. Maybe you’re in a remote village that no one’s ever heard of.
No matter your situation, you’re going to discover that some things you thought would be true of your experience, just are not. I could spend many-a blog post (and I plan to) talking about all the things you discover when you uproot your life and move to a new country.
Ask any plan-oriented traveler about their to-do’s for an upcoming trip, and you’re likely to hear them rattle off a list like this:
But how often do you hear about booking tours and excursions with socially conscious businesses? You might get an earful about a really cheap bar crawl or those infamous red double decker buses, but it’s rare to that social impact travel makes it to the top of the list.
However, 3 certified B Corps tour companies are aiming to change this status quo by offering travelers experiences with social impact and cultual authenticity. Each one has a distinct take on how travelers can use tour companies to ultimately make a positive impact to the given destination or a deeper and more meaningful connection to the local community.
Which one will you book on your next travel adventure?
Let's change the world.
Who wrote this?
Gina Edwards, Impact Explorer founder and lover of all pun jokes, making a positive change in the world, Stephen Colbert, Jif Peanut Butter, and staying inside on rainy days. Order may vary.