Imagine you are planning a much needed vacation and you decide to go to China.  You are on the plane when you arrive at your destination.  Getting off the plane and walking into the airport, you notice some things that are different than in the United States.  As you continue to walk through the airport and make your way towards where you will be living during your vacation, you realize things are very different than where you from.  People are speaking a different language, wearing different clothes, and eating different foods; those are just some of the differences between cultures.  When people visit another country or anywhere different from where they live, they experience some uneasiness or may be a bit uncomfortable.  This is called culture shock.  Most people will experience some degree of culture shock when they visit another area different from where they are from.

 Culture shock can be described as the feelings one experiences after leaving their familiar home culture to live in another cultural or social environment.  It occurs when the cultural symbols or signs that we use in social interaction are stripped away.  Some symptoms of culture shock that people may experience are homesickness, withdrawal, irritability, or the person might even feel a bit hostile towards the people of the new area because they do things differently than what the person is used to which is part of the cause for the person feeling uncomfortable.  They may feel negatively towards the people that live in the new area because they are different and don’t do things the way the visiting person is used to.  When people travel to other countries, they may come in contact with a counterculture.  A counterculture is a subculture that opposes certain aspects of the larger culture.  There may be people within a culture that do things differently than the rest of the people within that culture.  Another concept related to culture shock is ethnocentrism, which is when someone assumes that their own culture or way of life represent what is normal or are better than others.  Some people may realize they think this way when they travel away from home.

There are some things a person can do to prepare for culture shock and possibly try to prevent it or minimize it a bit.  It is a good idea to learn as much as you can about where you are going before you go.  Familiarizing yourself with the culture and what it will be like will help dealing with culture shock.  A person should try to stay open-minded when traveling somewhere new.  They could try to have a sense of humor about things to lighten the mood of the situation a bit, or possibly making a new friend in the new country would help.  Making a new friend means you would have someone who knows all about the culture of the area and could be of great help with any questions or concerns.  You could also bring some things with you to remind you of home, such as a favorite picture of your loved ones, or some other special item that will make you think of home and feel more comfortable.  It would also be good to keep in touch with people back home, such as friends and family.  They will help put your mind at ease, give you some advice and support when you are feeling uncomfortable and alone in a new place.  Perhaps the most important thing someone can do when traveling to a new place is to not give up.  You should just keep trying to figure things out in the new area, and just try to stay positive about the situation.  It won’t necessarily be easy at first, but it will get better.

Culture shock is a common thing to deal with when traveling to a new area.  People feel uncomfortable and sometimes even scared when they don’t know what is going on.  There are several things that can be done to deal with culture shock, and if people try to do these things and don’t give up, they can overcome the feeling of culture shock and have a great time in the new area they are traveling to.

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