Culture Shock When Teaching EFL

Teaching EFL abroad is a great opportunity to see the world and expand your horizons. But being away from home, family, living in a different culture and always being surrounded by the unfamiliar – well that can take its toll. You might be suffering from culture shock.

It starts with euphoria

The first thing you’ll feel when you get off the plane is euphoria. You’re in a new country, surrounded by new things and it’s simply amazing. But this natural high has its drawbacks – after all, what goes up, must come down.

The full force of culture shock

Everyone’s different and some lucky people don’t even suffer from culture shock. But those who do have reported feelings of unease, negativity and a strong desire to shy away from anything new.

How to deal with it

Dealing with culture shock isn’t as difficult as you’d think. There are just a few simple steps you can take, which can make a big difference:

  • Be prepared
    Knowing what to expect goes a long way to helping you deal with new cultures and experiences. So research the countryyou’re going to be heading to before you go.
  • Be yourself
    It sounds obvious doesn’t it? But you’d be surprised how many people travel to a new countryand try to become a completely different person at the same time. There’s no denying the fact that taking on a totally new career in a totally new country will change you. Just let it happen naturally, because if you don’t, you’ll feel even more lost.
  • Take one day at a time
    If you’re teaching abroad, you’re probably going to be away for a long time. But imagining a whole yearin this new, scary place can be overwhelming. So stay focused on the now and take one day at a time.
  • Make friends
    One of the things you’ll miss the most when you’re working abroadis your friends, so make new ones. So if you’re feeling down, tell someone about it – they’ll probably be feeling the same way.
  • Explore
    Getting to know your destinationwill help make it more familiar. And that’s the ultimate cure for culture shock. Start by looking for similarities between this new culture and your own.
  • Stay in touch
    When you’re feeling homesick, there’s nothing better than talking to someone from home. So make sure you keep in close contact with everyone you’ve left behind to go on your travels.
  • Learn the language
    The language barrier can put a real strain on you while you’re abroad. So you might find it useful to take a course before you go or while you’re there. Alternatively, ask the schoolyou’re working for to set up some language lessons for you.

Just remember, your trip will be whole lot better if you embrace new cultures, instead of clashing with them. So if all else fails, just go with the flow.


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