Ready for your first (volunteer) adventure abroad? We can only encourage you to get on the plane as soon as possible. However, be aware that you might experience a culture shock. Wait... what?
What is culture shock?
"Culture shock" is the term used to describe the confusion, anxiety or uncertainty some travelers experience when they encounter an unfamiliar way of life. It may result from a combination of homesickness, being overwhelmed by different sights, sounds and smells (information overload), and trying to navigate a different set of customs from what you’re used to.
Cambodia’s culture came as a bit of a shock at the beginning. Coming from London, the culture in Cambodia seemed the complete opposite to my own. However, as with everything, the more time you give it, the more you discover about it.
Charlie Brazil, Teaching Flexi Trip to Cambodia
Final words of advice
Remember, you are here as a guest of another country, bringing along your own set of outsider expectations, beliefs and values. While you may find some things different to what you are used to, it is not for you to impose your own customs and norms. Rather, keep an open mind and take the opportunity to learn more about an unfamiliar culture. Patience is key!
(And after all that, you may find that you adjust so well that returning home is just as much of a culture shock.)
Arriving in Heathrow I discovered that my favourite Senegalese tribal trousers, and vest top were not enough in the cool English weather. Saying ‘Salam Malekum’ gained me only looks of bewilderment rather than smiles and eating with hands was a big no-no. My supply of ‘Biskrem’ didn’t last me long, and I even missed my daily dose of thieboudienne. My host dad wasn’t lying when he said it was good for you.
Catherine Richards, Teaching Flexi Trip to Senegal