A Canadian expat that has been living abroad in Asia since 2003, Carrie moved from China to Taiwan in 2006 to teach English as a Second Language. Today, she and her husband are co-owners of Reach To Teach Recruiting . Carrie also works as a freelance travel writer and photographer, providing regular content to several publishing companies and travel publications in Asia and North America. Follow Carrie on Google+ or on Twitter @globetrotteri.

16 responses to “Dealing With Culture Shock”

  1. jorees

    This is an excellent post. I think that I may be experiencing a bit of culture shock. You would think that after five months I would feel more at home. However, I find that in some way the culture shock is what you came for. Something completely different. An adventure.

  2. globetrotteri

    Culture shock is definitely a strange thing to deal with. I’ve suffered all sorts of culture shock. I’m normally an upbeat kind of person. I like to look at my glass as half full, so I can honestly say that I haven’t gone through a lot of traumatic culture shock.

    When I was in China, I was just so darned excited to be there that I threw myself into everyday life. I didn’t suffer many outward signs of culture shock.

    Taiwan has been a different story for me and one that I am just now starting to realise, now that I am a year into my contract here.

  3. jessica in rome

    Good tips! I try to focus on the positives as well. Expat life can be frustrating.

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  5. A Personal Account of Dealing With Culture Shock in Taiwan « My Several Worlds

    [...] took me over two months to take my own advice. The first step was admitting that I was suffering from culture shock and the second step was [...]

  6. Jess

    Thank you for this post. I am currently preparing to depart for a semester abroad in Prague and have been trying to ready myself as much as possible for culture shock. Your post has been one of the most practical and accessible guides I have found and is a comfort to hear from someone who has a far greater amount of international experience.

  7. globetrotteri

    Hi Jess,

    I’m glad you found this post helpful. Living abroad can be rough at times, but the experiences you have and people you meet will far outweigh any of the obstacles you may encounter. You’re in for one helluva a journey. Good luck and happy traveling!

  8. The Outsider

    Every foreigner in Taiwan has a specific status in Taiwanese society, just like the Taiwanese themselves. The Taiwanese classify you by race, skin color, language, purpose of coming to Taiwan, job, education level, being able to speak Chinese or not, looks and so on. The combination of all these factors into the status equation of the Taiwanese gives a single result: you and your status within the Taiwanese society.

    From this status derives the opportunities you get to make money, make friends and so on… It is quite complicated…

    Culture shock in Taiwan is not something you overcome by adapting yourself to society… it is actually something permanent… unless you decide to do exactly what the Taiwanese expect from you: teaching them English for free, not looking at their women, not learning Chinese, and not making more money than they do. “So do not fuckin’ think of making a livin’ a Taiwan if you don’t have the guts to give a shit ’bout some of these freaks”.

    I apologize… but sometimes I get a little bit emotional…

  9. 100+ Tips and Resources for Teaching Abroad | Teaching Tips

    [...] Dealing with Culture Shock. Even the most gung-ho teacher will find culture shock creeping in at some time. Read this post for ideas on how to make it through the rough patches. [...]

  10. Pam

    Thanks for your advices. I try to be happy in new country. Sometimes is tough but your informations are useful. I will do it. Thanks again :)

  11. Mindy Lee

    Carrie, this is an excellent article; real struggles and practical solutions. My family is originally from Taiwan. I love the photography section of your site. I am one of the Founders of Pencils Up and we will definitely refer our teachers to read your article in preparation for their adventures and teaching abroad!

  12. Tracy

    Yup. We are here three months. It’s been rough. My daughter is very unhappy some days. She will say she hates it here. She finally said that she specifically hates the town we are in. We don’t have time to travel or meet new people. I work, she goes to school.

    We have lived in Asia for four years now. I like other places like Nepal and India. I am yet accostomed to Taiwan. I like the Taiwanese people I have met so far. They are nice. Because I have a child, we are treated with respect and great kindness but I also have a deep belief that most people are….good and nice. I have met very few rude bad people out in the world…

    Culture shock is hard though. I have found myself feeling depressed. I see my daughter on that edge sometimes too. Our school isnt’ very understanding of culture shock and they have been very strict with my daughter. I am considering doing something else.


    But yeah, try to adventure. It helps relieve the stressed feelings…

  13. Lusitana

    Dear Carrie,

    Thank you for sharing this article.
    I came across this website while looking for a solution, advice…just some help regarding culture shock.
    I am originally from Portugal, Europe, and I was brought to the US by my parents when i was 14, told that i’d only be here for 9 months, and then return to my homeland.

    It’s been 12 years, and I’m still suffering from this situation. I have fully tried to adapt to the US, by having american friends, american boyfriend, an americanized life….but at the end, i find myself truly unhappy. I struggle to understand the way things are done here, like not having free education and health care. I struggle to understand how everything revolves around business. People dont work to live a happy life, they live to work…ending up not even being very involved with family and loved ones. There is also too many rules, and instead of the land of the freedom, i feel like i am caged . ( I apologize if any of you, believe my feelings are somewhat offensive, that is not what i’m trying to go for).
    I love many things about this country, but the main aspects of it, throw me off so hard.
    I’d come back if I could, and live the life that belongs to me, but I have been in New York for too long, the love of my life is american, my parents and brother still live here, and I’ve basically acquired a life here. I can’t leave my loved ones behind, so I can restart my life in my country, where the culture makes sense to me, where im truly confortable…. Unfortunally I feel like I am stuck, and I’ll never belong, and understand the culture fully… But everyday i Try, not only for myself, but one day when i do have kids, they’ll be american, and I’ll have to guide them through their own culture and understand their ways.

    It has been 12 long years….But I will not give up. good luck to all of us who still struggle with culture shock.

    Here’s a quote off the text that you wrote that stood out for me :

    “We all make comparisons. Comparing your new home to back home is only natural. Don’t get into the habit of looking at everything in a negative light.”

    Embrace the positives… :)

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