Let’s Have a Conversation About Culture Shock

I recently had a conversation with one of our current students to dig out the reality of how cultural differences affect when one chooses to study in a cultural disparate country rather than one’s own. Choosing to study abroad is a significant life decision, but you know you made the correct one the moment you will step off the aircraft and land in Barcelona. 

When the Excitement Wears Off

She was enthralled by the new culture and lured to everything in this city for the first few weeks: the architecture, the exotic food, the way people dressed, the double-decker and open-top buses, and so on. Like every excited soul, she too snapped several photographs and shared them with her pals back home.  Unfortunately, the honeymoon phase was short-lived, and she began to be  concerned. She could vividly recall and narrate the day she was sitting in her apartment, looking out the window at the sky, when she got engulfed in overwhelming emotions. A terrible sensation of powerlessness and loneliness replaced the euphoria and sense of newness.  

Traveling is not the same as living in a foreign nation. When she couldn’t make herself understand, she had to communicate using hand gestures and facial expressions. It wasn’t humorous, but it was stressful, she sighed. Some basic tasks, like ordering food or scheduling a doctor’s visit, were at first difficult for her. Even  though she knew that this was a completely natural reaction and that many other students were going through the same thing, it was difficult to handle. Soon she began to doubt her reasons and ambitions for studying in Barcelona and began to lose her identity in this city filled with individuals from all walks of life.

Making Amendments

However, she concentrated on making things better. Taking up the FREE Beginner level Spanish classes offered by C3S Business School worked like magic with her basic communication within the city with local shop owners, restaurants, even with local people. Talking to people was one of the most important things that helped her get through this terrible period. She approached the C3S Business School Faculty team and sought their counsel, as well as reached out to her fellow-mates and invited them out for coffee. Developing new relationships, especially with people from different cultural backgrounds, is difficult, but it is worthwhile, she said this with childlike glee. Speaking with C3S professors and classmates helped her to see things from a fresh viewpoint. Another unexpected benefit was that she discovered that, despite race and nationality, they have a lot more in common than she thought. 

Cultivating Resilience

It takes time and patience to get the shock out of cultural shock. She has been in  Barcelona for six months now and has gradually adjusted to her new surroundings. I wouldn’t say she is totally integrated into the host culture, but she has discovered that she can have the guts and confidence to overcome any obstacles that could arise in the forthcoming time. Her life in the city is like a maze  with many twists and turns. Some issues appear to be insurmountable at first, but she knows her way out to solve them and come out victorious. She happily mentioned that the Student Support team at C3S Business School is a rare treasure!  They supported her with all her issues and gave her the courage to fight her problems.

This is most likely how we mature and learn to be stronger.  

And it will not be too far in the future that she will fall in love with the city and will cherish her living in Barcelona for years to come. I wish her all the luck and best of  the time. 🙂