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Culture shock when traveling

On Monday afternoon a friend texted me that she was sick with nearly no voice and that she promised the tourism first year of our university to held a guest speech about things you face while being on an internship in a foreign country. She asked me if I could help her out because I travel a lot and I already gave a great presentation 3 years ago about my life in Australia.

This wasn’t very difficult for me to answer but I am very busy these days with other presentations coming up and exams starting next week. Nevertheless I told her that she should rest and I would take over the presentation. That was a couple of hours before the actual presentation and I still had a course about Sustainability and Ethics before this.


I quickly had to get home and search my other computer for that presentation I gave 3 years ago and be on time for my lecture and then rush to the other presentation. Of course I had no time at all to prepare myself and I totally improvised.

I had to give 3 presentations to three groups. The University every year organizes an internship market where some students of the first year have to present to students of the first and second year possibilities of doing their internship or studying abroad in a foreign country.

Before they started I noticed two things, they were all dressed professional in dresses and suits and had a pretty good PowerPoint presentation. Me on the other hand, came in thongs, a shirt and a hat. While they opened the presentation and talked a little bit of things to keep in mind like visa, insurance etc, I figured out that my presentation was totally inadequate and spontaneously changed my plans a little bit.

My presentation consisted of pictures I took during the time I lived in Australia and I wanted to tell stories about the things I experienced there.  I did this but included some facts and told stories about my personal experiences while living in different countries.

Like why a good insurance is so important. In Sydney some people spiked my drink and I got robbed before I got hit by a car. The insurance back then payed me everything and I even got a pay out later. Luckily I didn’t took the cheapest one.

I also talked about culture shock. That’s a very interesting topic and it’s interesting that researchers found out that you can calculate the time when you get depressed (see picture) I think most of us who have traveled a lot and lived in other countries for some while went through this. I still recall the time when I moved to Australia and the same happened when I moved to the Netherlands. At the beginning I was feeling very good because everything was so interesting and new but after a while you got scared of anything and you thought you couldn’t manage everything. I also remember that when I came back from Australia I was frustrated because nobody was interested in the stories I was telling or wanted to tell.

I also included some other things like natural hazards you gotta think of etc. At the end the group was very happy with my improvised presentation and the people and the audience later thanked me personally because it helped them clear their mind a little bit about their plans.

It was a good day!

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4 comments on “Culture shock when traveling

  1. Shaun on

    Seeing a graph and knowing there was a study to back this up is eye opening. It’s something I’ve experienced but never researched.

    I do get the “nobody was interested in your stories” part. For every few that have enjoyed a story or experience I’ve had one has brushed aside or dismissed it as well.

    • seba on

      I always thought whats wrong with them… but I noticed that I’m not the only one who feels like this. I do try to listen to any story of my friends when they return from traveling cause I know how frustrating it can be if nobody cares…

  2. Carolyn on

    When I was teaching in Korea, they gave us a guidebook for new teachers and it had essentially the same graph. They went over it in our training too, something like, “Right now you are at your peak excitement because everything is new and exciting but sometime in the fall or winter you will drop into a state of depression and want to give up. Don’t worry, the situation will improve, and you will come out of it feeling good.” It’s actually very accurate. You always come back with the wonderful stories and living abroad was a good experience for me both in France and Korea, but there were definitely times when it was all too frustratingly different and I would have given anything to go home!

    • seba on

      Its a good thing that they warned you that this would happen. I remember the first time, it was terrible. The second and third time weren’t that bad anymore. And nowadays I know that this happens and I just deal with it.