Dealing with Culture Shock – Peru, South America

Culture shock can be difficult to deal with. It can affect you at work and in your daily life. Be aware of it and know how to deal with it. Read up on it before leaving and understand how you can deal with it. If you’re prepared for what to expect, it will make overcoming culture shock that much easier. Having pictures from home, talking to people in your native language, walking in the park, or even sleeping can all help with culture shock.

Learning the language is probably one of the most important steps you can take to get accustomed to your host country. Even if you speak the language of the country you’re moving to, you’ll find yourself going through culture shock. It starts with a fascination for everything, seeing things through rose coloured glasses. It then moves on to not being able to accept anything. Though people usually grow to accept things over time, even after years of living in a country, small things might still frustrate you, but with time and effort, you can get over culture shock.

If people speak English where you work, you’ll probably face less problems. But you will still have to deal with cultural issues, such as greetings, time, personal space, interacting with co-workers and management. Observe how other people communicate at work. When in doubt, ask others what you should do in a given situation.

Bureaucracy is often less organised in other countries; people love paperwork. Standing in line to do simple things, such as paying bills is common, not to mention going through immigration. You’ll have to be patient person when dealing with all the paper pushing. I think this is done to create jobs. If it helps you to think that all the paperwork allows someone to feed their family, all the better.

If you’re not a patient person, bring something to do or find something to do. Let’s say you’re in the bank, your ticket is 301 and they’re on ticket 199. You probably have a good hour's wait. You can either stay in the bank, read a book, listen to music, correct papers, or leave the bank. Leave the bank and you can get other errands done, maybe grab a coffee, go to the internet, call a friend, or exchange money. After about 45 minutes, pop back over to the bank and see what number they’re on. If they’re close to yours, stick around, if not, head back out and get more errands done. If you’re nice to those who are helping you, they’ll be nice to you and more likely help you out.

You can change the way you dress, act and speak. Wear less casual clothes. Tank tops, shorts, flip-flops, cargo pants, swishy pants, tennis shoes, hats and sunglasses are pretty casual wear in many countries. When you decide to go on a trip or out to see some sites, forget the cameras, guidebooks, and maps.

The way you act is also key. Don't call attention to yourself. The way you speak can also go a long way. If you don’t speak the language of the host country, that’s fine, but make an effort to at least learn the basics. If you have to speak English, use simple words and gestures. If they can help you, great, if not, ask someone else. If you take into account the problems you may face, you’ll be prepared and more ready to conquer them during your time in Peru.