Overcoming Culture Shock

Here are the three main ways you can overcome culture shock. Firstly I want to encourage you. You may think going through culture shock can hinder you from being what you think is your best for God. Keep in mind that what you think may be your weakest time in God can be your most effective time in his kingdom.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. (Isaiah 55:8)

Keep this scripture in mind if you are discouraged with where you are at and how you are feeling in your new setting. This can be your strongest time yet as a disciple.  God will use your weaknesses and biggest mistakes for his will.  I know because it has been this way for me. That’s the reason why I am able to write this blog post today. Take comfort and delight in that.

1. Dive in head first:

I know, this approach sounds radical and scary right? This was the last thing I wanted to do. Who wants to take a plunge into something you know nothing about. This approach however is exactly what will help you quickly get over culture shock.  Here are two scenarios of when I didn’t dive in right away and when I did.

One summer I moved to New Jersey to intern with the youth and family ministry. Although I was only an hour away from home I had a hard time adjusting. Driving in New Jersey was so different that I couldn’t take it, and I also was living away from my family for the first time. With all this newness I separated myself from the church. I felt like nobody wanted to help me adjust or had time for me. For a month I hid, then God helped me to turn things around. All I did was decide to serve. The next month was totally different than the last. I left New Jersey feeling full and used by God. My first month could have been different if I would have dove straight in, but I didn’t and I suffered the consequences. My first month was not fun, but I was able to learn from it and do things differently the next time.

When we moved to Spain, I just dove right in. Only after 6 days I found a job, well actually the job found me.  I thought my goodness can I get some time to adjust first. Well that answer was NO, I had to take the metro for the first time by myself to someone’s home I had never been in to teach four kids English!! I was terrified and had no idea what I was doing. I believe God knew that this was best for me. He knew what was best for me and God knows what’s best for you as well. So when opportunities present themselves get out there and just go for it. Don’t hide, immerse yourself into the culture, you might love it.

2. Learn the language:

Nothing will keep you in culture shock more than not knowing the language. If you have the opportunity to learn the language before you leave, do that. Get the basics down. If you are already there start learning as soon as you can. I was shocked to realize that I couldn’t communicate with people anymore. I learned that if you turn your shock into diligence you can diligently learn the language. You will feel a boost of confidence.  Take your time to learn the language.

3. Routine:

Get into a daily routine. Try to create a time for everything. It helps to create normalcy in a time that isn’t your norm. In that daily routine, create more time with God this is very important! If at home you had an hour with God a day, double that. Realize that you need God now more than you did at home. Take prayer walks around the neighborhood that’ll help you get closer to God and at the same time close to your surroundings. That’s killing two birds with one stone!

I hope this helps you to see Gods goodness and to have hope. I am sure that you’ll overcome culture shock in no time with Gods help.

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” ‭‭Psalm‬ ‭46:1‬ ‭NIV

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