Coming to Wuhan just about everything is different; currency, food, available merchandise, morals and ethics, social custom and traditions, personal hygiene, medical care and family life. One’s ability to adjust to life in China depends greatly on how resilient ones character is as well as how determined one is to make the psychological, emotional and physical adjustment required.
It is common to experience culture shock when living in a foreign country for an extended period of time. Culture shock is defined as the feeling of disorientation, insecurity and anxiety one may feel in unfamiliar surroundings. Values, behaviors and social customs we routinely take for granted may no longer serve us in our new environment. By adapting to a foreign culture you can overcome your culture shock and develop meaningful relationships with those around you, rather than feeling anxious and confused in your new space.
Before coming to Wuhan I did an extensive research about the city even to the extent of learning a bit of Chinese language., and one of the most important point is to keep an open mind as you will have a higher tolerance level, have a greater patience with others because you are open to the fact that they may also have a valid reason for behaving or feeling the way they do. This way you are more accepting of others and have fewer prejudices. You also become more optimistic and make the most of life.
Chinese customs, rituals and protocol may be totally different from the country you coming from. And at most times it maybe be really frustrating but make it a point to not take cultural familiarity or knowledge at face value. It takes a long time to really understand a culture in its social and historical context. When all these overwhelms you try to think of the other times that you have encountered and yet succeeded in the past. It may not be an easy thing to do, but if we try to count our blessings and see where we have triumphed in the past, we can see that there is no way that we cannot get through these as well.
Culture shock may times hit us in our lives and it is a natural emotion that we need to get through. As long as we work towards dreams and goals that we want to see happen, we will encounter some sort of frustration. Remember it is how we deal with it that is important.
Wuhan is a very devise city, you will find that you will severely dislike the culture and will experience intermittent feelings of anxiety and depression characterized by a demonstration of animosity, a short temper, a strong sense of being stuck and frequent tendency to criticize and mock the people and their culture. Depending on the individual the stage can last up to years or persist considerably longer for those who lack the capacity, faculties and social support required to properly adjust. To adjust to Wuhan during this period you need to settle in and be more confident and acquire some Chinese language skills and the ability to communicate around basic needs without assistance. These will help you to feel less isolated.
Learning what to expect in Wuhan can help reduce cultural shock, stress and depression until you get accustomed to the speed of daily life. The very last thing you should avoid doing is withdrawing or isolating yourself from other people even though you may feel like doing at times.
“Whether in Russia or USA, Steve Duke , Director of the Centre for international studies, advises students to go beyond being tourists to interact in significant ways with those who live in the country they are visiting. Making cultural connections is what makes study abroad the most meaningful”-he says.