How to Overcome Culture Shock in a New Workplace

on March 1, 2022

Coming to a new country can be an exciting, yet challenging, process. It is full of mixed emotions, and it will inevitably take time to adjust.  As a newcomer, it is a big step to complete the process of landing your first job in a new environment with an unfamiliar culture – especially if you are arriving from different county. You may feel the impacts of this change emotionally, mentally and physically – this is culture shock.

But what is the process of culture shock? And how can you overcome the impact of it in a new workplace? In this article we will list down helpful tips about to deal with the symptoms.

When you go abroad your daily routine, culture, food and the attitudes of people around you are no longer familiar. The process of recognizing, understanding, and adapting to these changes is called culture shock. Culture shock is caused by being exposed to an alien environment and culture, leaving expats and long-term travellers feeling a sense of anxiety, alienation and nervousness. While many expats experience culture shock differently, there are some common symptoms and stages.

Here are four stages of culture shock:
  • Honeymoon Stage – You will have new and wonderful things to explore when arriving in a new place and this will feel very exciting and even euphoric.
  • Frustration Stage- In this stage you will feel intense. You’ll get mad at the apparent “disorganization” of things and become overwhelmed with all the things going on around you and will feel irritated.
  • Adjustment Stage – this stage you will feel more comfortable with culture and new surroundings and finally you are able to relax. You’ll start to have a more positive outlook, interest in learning more about your host country, and make more effort to fit in.
  • Acceptance Stage – Reaching a high level of comfort in your new home is the final stage of culture shock. The order of things makes sense, you can talk to strangers with ease, and you understand cultural nuances. But this doesn’t mean that one day you’ll wake up suddenly and understand everything completely, instead it’s more about accepting that it isn’t necessary to have a complete understanding of things in order to function and thrive in your new environment.

Remember, these stages are not always experienced in the exact same order, and they can vary from person to person. Mostly, culture shock feels like an emotional roller coaster, consisting of both positive and negative feelings, one right after another and they might come and go.

Here are couple of tips on how to deal with culture shock:
  1. Learn about the new county you are staying – the internet might be the first place to start. Read through travel forums, guidebooks, news reports, or novels.
  2. Connections – one step to overcome culture shock is get to know the community, and the best way to do this is by making local friends. Try attending social groups and events where possible. Join a sports team, go to major festivals, and make this new home a home!
  3. Find a distraction – take some time to yourself, watch an episode of your favourite TV show, cook a meal from home, or have a solo dance party in your house.
  4. Learn about the language – language can trigger culture shock. Being unable to communicate with the locals can make you feel even more isolated. So, learning the language is also very important. Its not just a way to understand more of the culture (language and culture are linked), but also to make friends. And hey – it’s just fun!

You’ve gone this far and overcome the culture shock and now it’s time for you to start with your new job. How can you make a great impression and blend in into the new workplace culture?

Here are some tips on how to blend into your new working environment:
  1. Ask questions

Asking is an important skill to develop. If you need help or want to know something, ask. If you are unsure of the protocol, ask. Asking questions can be uncomfortable and you will feel self-conscious about putting yourself out there, but its better to ask than remain silent and make a costly mistake.

  1. Communications

Being able to communicate in a foreign language is an essential skill to have. This will help you integrate with the other staff and your co-workers. Leaning a new language can be difficult and it take practice to be able to communicate. Practice at home and take things at your own pace and this will improve your communication skills at work. =

  1. Don’t be afraid to take initiative

Think of the initiative it took you to embark on the journey to come out to a new country. Most of the company work places like strong emphasis on the willingness of employees to take initiative in their roles.

  1. Personal development

Personal development will grow the skills that help you not only adapt to the workplace culture but excel in it. Committing to developing personally a little bit every day will teach you all the necessary skills to adapt and grow. Leadership skills, interpersonal skills, conflict resolution and empathetic listening skills are just some of the skills you will develop by committing to personal growth. They will aid you in your work life as well as in the settlement process in a new country.

  1. Share your story

Sharing your story is inspiring and don’t be afraid to share it to your colleagues and other people. By explaining who you are and why you came to this country you allow people to get to know you. This may lead to a mentoring relationship with a colleague. Even if it does not, you should be proud of your accomplishments thus far and be excited to accomplish more as you grow.

Here at High Street centre we are multi-cultural and diverse business centre. We have office spaces available for new tenants who are interested in joining our community of like-minded professionals. If you need a new office or advice for your business please do not hesitate to contact us on [email protected] or simply visit our website.


Written by Mae Suharevics.

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