If this is your first trip outside the U. S., you’re probably looking forward to receiving the new, exciting experiences that are in store for you. Unfortunately, when you arrive in your first foreign country, instead of feeling excited and a lot of energy, you may unexpectedly feel depressed, disoriented and lonely, especially if you’re traveling alone. The greater the discrepancy between this foreign culture and the American culture you are familiar with, the more marked these feelings might be. The technical term for this is ‘culture shock. ‘
The language barrier is often the more difficult issue to face, for many Americans in foreign countries. If you don’t know some simple phrases in the language of your host country, you’ll feel very isolated. How do you communicate with others to search for a place to eat or to find your way around town? What do you do for entertainment? The movies are in a foreign language and there are very few places available where you can socialize easily. You suddenly feel very alienated.
Most colleges and universities in Australia offer globally recognized qualifications that bring in thousands of foreign students a year. If it’s part of your master plan to get a jet-setting career, get an Australian degree. This will give you credibility to show that you have experienced life in a foreign country and have the capacity to socialize with different cultures. Universities and colleges in Australia have been recognized for their high-exposure that makes you search for your own answers rather than rely on texts and teachers for information.
Dealing with foreign currency can likewise be a problem. You have to do mental calculations every time you attempt to buy something. How much does this cost? All of these coins look alike. How much change do I get back? This can be very daunting, especially if bargaining for goods is part of the culture.
The Best Part Of Exposure To Culture When Travelling
Exhaustion is also common when traveling. Jet lag is a physical phenomenon and the greater the variation in time, the more time needed to adjust. On some trips you may find night and day completely reversed from home. In addition, major cities in Europe, South America, and Asia are quite congested and have a higher degree of noise and air pollution than you may be employed to. When all of the noise and congestion begins to feel overwhelming, take time out to relax. Get plenty of sleep, eat lightly and drink lots of fluid, preferably bottled water. Get some exercise every day even if it is only a walk around the block (if the area is safe). Bring your laptop computer. Remember your friends and relatives are only an e-mail away. Above all, keep your sense of humor. This is an experience to be enjoyed; make the most of it.
Depression: When you have to cope with great multitudes of people speaking a foreign tongue, and with vastly different customs and lifestyles, it’s easy to become anxious and irritable. The resulting feeling of being helpless to do something about your situation may give rise to depression and an overall loss of energy.
Disorientation: You may be traveling to countries where English isn’t used on street signs, restaurants, or office buildings. Panic can set in quickly. It is very frustrating to attempt to find your way in an unfamiliar environment. It can also be frightening when you do not recognize where you’re and realize that you cannot just ask anyone to help you.
Intimidation: We all like to believe that we’re organized and in control of our environment. In other countries, however, you may feel disappointed and thwarted by the many steps it may take to perform a simple task such as paying for some purchase.
Alienation: When you travel abroad, you may feel out of order, particularly if you do not speak the language. In many countries it isn’t likely that you’ll be asked to join a social group or even be approached at a social gathering. You will more likely be left on your own. This may cause you to feel rejected and uncertain about how to proceed.
Travel with a companion. If you know someone who is also traveling on business, think about coordinating your schedules to meet for dinner or for sightseeing. It is easier to deal with a new environment as a team than to face it alone.
Get to know the people you’ll visit. Use phone, letter, or fax to initiate your relationships. A friendly reception is more likely to expect you when you arrive.
If you’re traveling to a country for the very first time let your hosts know and ask them for some advice on how to deal with this and see while you’re there. You might find that they’ll spend more time with you if they know you’re here for the first time, and may even make arrangements for you or help you arrange to see some cultural events or take a tour. Most hosts will appreciate your interest in their country and culture. This will help enhance your relationship.
List places you think you may wish to visit. Jot down interesting day and evening destinations that you might like to visit in your spare time.
Plan your travel routes. Keep the telephone numbers of taxis, and bus and train route maps with you, as and a card from your hotel in the local language in case you get lost. City maps can easily be obtained from tourist offices at the airport or downtown as well as from your hotel concierge or desk clerk.
Establish familiar grounds. Frequent certain lunch and dinner spots and evening hangouts to help you establish a rapport with the owners and locals and make you feel like you are part of the group.
Talk to locals who speak English. They appreciate the good fortune to practice their English and will be delighted at your interest in their culture and more than happy to respond to your questions about it.
Be flexible. Allow plenty of time to go to appointments. Bring a book to read in case you’ve got to wait. Try to figure out ways to avoid offending your hosts while satisfying your own needs.
Be patient. People in foreign countries aren’t usually as direct or in as much of a rush as people in the U. S. When you feel yourself getting uptight, take a few deep breaths and visualize a calming scene. Remember that people will not behave the way you expect or want them to, and getting upset will not make you or them feel any better.
Ask your hosts some questions about their country and culture. They will usually enjoy talking about it. This will help you understand and appreciate what you’re seeing.
If you do not have a great deal of time to sightsee, walk around the city (ask first if it’s safe to walk around and for suggested areas to walk) to have a feel for how the people live, eat, and interact with each other.
If you have a part of a day which is free (due to a canceled meeting, for example) to speak to your hotel concierge about a morning or afternoon tour or hire a taxi to get you to a major sight seeing spots.
Many hotels offer nightlife tours that include a city illumination tour, dinner and a cultural show. Many of these excursions can be booked the same day then you can fit it in to your busy schedule. It is a great way to become familiar with the culture and meet other businesswomen on the road.
Check to see if any museums or department stores have late night hours. Major cities such as London and Paris have extended hours at least one night a week. This is ideal for business people on the road.