The word ‘shock’ is a bit extreme, and especially with the amount of resources we have, it is hard to be completely ‘shocked’ by another culture.
We should start using the word ‘awareness’ instead. Cultural Awareness is ‘the understanding of the differences between themselves and people from other countries or other backgrounds, especially differences in attitudes and values’ (via Collin’s Dictionary). Replacing the word in a sentence changes not only the tone but the understanding. For example, “I was so shocked by how people greet each other with kisses and hugs!” to something like “I was not aware that people greet each other with kisses and hugs!” There are several cultures around the world and it would be simply preposterous to think everyone has the same culture. You should not feel appalled but rather learn to embrace and understand it.
“Once your mindset changes, everything on the outside will change along with it.” -Steve Maraboli
Changing your tone will subconsciously change how to view others as well as your own customs. This is the key to creating a stronger foundation of global/international cooperation. During the Coronavirus, the emphasis on global cooperation has never been clearer. Straits Times wrote, “A poll conducted amid the coronavirus pandemic has found strong support for global cooperation across 14 advanced economies, with a majority believing that cooperating more with other countries would have reduced the number of infections at home.” The need for international cooperation is more prevalent today than ever before and it starts with you!
Changing your mindset will also help you understand how to cope with reverse culture shock. Reverse culture shock is the unhappiness or confusion you have when returning to your home after an extended period of time away. If one is abroad and observes rather than judges another culture, coming home you are more enlightened rather than saddened. To compare and contrast the differences abroad will help you realize the things you take for granted and the things you wish to change at home.
Read more about Culture Awareness vs Appropriation from our other Travel Debate.