How to Manage Culture Shock

  • Don’t let culture shock take you by surprise. Allow time to find out about it before and expect it to happen. Accept that it’s normal to have these feelings, however much you really want to move to Canada. It’s different and there will be things you don’t fully understand or that you find difficult to adapt to.
  • As soon as you arrive, identify all the opportunities for building support networks. Are you interested in sports? Then find a club or group you can join. Do you have children? Find out where parents and children can meet and socialize.  If you’re going to work, then that helps, but mothers left at home with children may find it much harder to get out and meet people. Learn the language so you can participate as much as possible, understand what is going on around you and be able to improve your work prospects. Joining the local ESL Settlement Assistance Program or Welcome Network and visiting the local Welcome Centre will also help you meet other newcomers and immigrants who are experiencing the same things as you.
  • Fight culture shock – don’t give in to it. Build a new routine as soon as you can rather than stay home and isolated. Take a walk each day, visit the gym, go swimming, or go to the store. Try to talk to someone new each day – maybe just someone in a store – but this will help you feel less isolated. At the same time, ask others around you how they felt and for their advice. You will see that you are not alone and everyone feels the same way at some point.
  • Give yourself time to adapt and don’t rush into too many projects at the start. It’s OK to take time to make decisions. Learn about your new community, new culture and norms. Find out about groups run by the Settlement Assistance Program which cover Canadian culture, society and current affairs to help you understand your new environment and start participating more widely.
  • Don’t hesitate to seek professional help if symptoms persist.
  • Think about the positive aspects of culture shock – people who experience it adapt better to their new environment than those who do not.
  • Don’t lose your sense of humour.
  • Participate – Seek support – Appreciate cultural differences (Settlement – Outreach)
  • Learn about Canada and British Columbia:

WelcomeBC Newcomers’ Guide – Chapters 11, 12 and 13 talk about Community and Culture, Environment and British Columbia.

Welcome to Canada guidebook  – Chapter 2 gives a brief overview of Canada.