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How to overcome culture shock

A major attribute that will help any employee develop their professional career to their fullest potential is, without a doubt, the ability to adapt to a foreign environment.  

If you are looking to work in an international environment where innovation is key to success, you will quickly have to learn how to adapt to new working environments.  

Although I was raised in a foreign country by foreign parents and have had the chance to travel a fair bit, I have still not quite accustomed myself to the nomad lifestyle. But that’s okay! Flexibility and adaptability are two soft skills which require some time.  

12 months ago, I moved from Bath to Germany to start a year-long internship in a marketing agency specialising in Healthcare. I am half German from my mother’s side and have always claimed to feel German, as I travelled there quite often and kept in touch with my German roots.  

My Erasmus year challenged me from the very start, as I found it very difficult to adapt to a new city and work environment whilst having to completely rebuild my social circle.  

What really helped me overcome this culture shock was to realise that I was in fact new to the scene and to subsequently let go of all preconceived ideas I had regarding my placement in Germany.  

Being open to new ways of living, adapting to the country’s rules and pushing yourself to learn about the history and traditions of a new place are all crucial steps for familiarising yourself.  

We as humans naturally fear the unknown and would rather retract into our old ways than break our routine and rebuild our lives around a totally new concept. But we shouldn’t let fear get the best of us! 

Overcoming culture shock is a process and shouldn’t be perceived as a set-back but rather, as a learning curve. Living in a world that is culturally very diverse is a blessing – having this in mind will help you to adopt a positive mindset throughout the process. 

Every culture will be different, and every city has its own cultural feel which might differ from one another. The trick is to be open-minded, and willing to try out new ways of life, which will make your time in your new place much more enjoyable. It will get easier over time, I promise.  

Leora Garling

Leora is a final year German and International Management student and Features Editor for 2020/1.

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