How to Cope with Culture Shock

by Dr. Jessie Voigts /
Dr. Jessie Voigts's picture
Jan 15, 2015 / 0 comments

Culture shock: if you've ever lived overseas, you know what it is. If you're about to live overseas, then it's a good idea to gather some tips to make going through it easier.

No one can avoid culture shock, nor should you try to - it's an important part of your intercultural learning experience. It teaches you about yourself, your home culture, and the new culture you're living in. I wrote my dissertation on intercultural adaptation (using the Bennett Model of Intercultural Sensitivity), and am always trying to share this important process that all long-term travelers and expats go through.


Calais to Dover. Take a trip!


So what do you do to prepare for culture shock? How can you best cope with it? We were recently sent a review copy (thank you!) of Culture Shock: A Practical Guide, written by H.E. Rybol. She's got a WHOLE site on intercultural adaptation, if you're interested in learning more.


Culture Shock: A Practical Guide


Culture Shock: A Practical Guide is an easy to read, portable (ebook!) guide to coping with culture shock. Chapters include:

  • A matter of perception
  • Craving comfort
  • Processing new information
  • Coping without autopilot
  • Dealing with difficult situations
  • Dealing with alienation
  • Bringing it all together

This book covers all the basics of culture shock without scaring people (yes, it can be scary to live somewhere else!). With an honest, friendly voice, the book shares aspects of culture shock, from initial impressions to coping skills. And it is full of helpful tips (a plethora of them), and quotes that stick with you, such as:

The purpose with which you do something matters because it shifts the focus and therefore affects the experience of whatever it is you’re doing.

Experiencing culture shock is a gift that helps us find our story within a world of stories and understand how all are connected.

Realize that you are still going to be yourself - just a different, more well-rounded version of yourself. Trust yourself to handle these changes.


I love this book, and highly recommend it for anyone about to head overseas - it's the adventure of a lifetime! This is one thing you need to pack, to make your journeys easier.

We were lucky enough to catch up with Helene, to talk about her book, the backstory, and more. Here's what she had to say...


Helene Rybol, author of Culture Shock: A Practical Guide


Please tell us about your book, Culture Shock: A Practical Guide...

I wrote this book to offer support to anyone dealing with the effects of culture shock. The book focuses on the person, not a specific country. It is meant to be a security blanket, a comforting companion for any trip.


What inspired you to write this book?

I was trying to figure out how my experience could benefit others. That's how I came up with Culture Shock Toolbox and the idea for this book.


Who can benefit from reading it?

International students, study abroad students, travelers, expats, expat children, cross-cultural kids, third culture kids, people moving within a country...


Culture shock can be hard - but you've got some excellent tips in the book! Can you please share your favorite ones for intercultural adaptation?

I always found the idea of slowing down very helpful. I also like the practice of thinking in questions instead of statements - it helps us drop preconceived notions and stimulates curiosity and interest.


How can dealing with culture shock help us become better global citizens?

Experiencing culture shock puts life into perspective. Finding out how other people think, what they believe, how they do things and why, experiencing different smells and tastes in new environments automatically puts our own thoughts, beliefs, actions and environment into perspective. It helps us broaden our horizons, become more compassionate and understanding.


What's up next for you?

eBook #2 :)


Alhambra, Spain



Learn more at:


And find the ebook at:



All photos courtesy and copyright H.E. Rybol