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Tips for gaining cultural awareness while teaching overseas

We’ve discussed culture shock on the Teach Away blog before and ways that you can manage culture shock by making small adjustments to your life while teaching overseas. It goes without saying that making such a big move can be both exciting and stressful.

One of the major ways you can combat culture shock is by building a base of cultural awareness regarding your new country of residence. But what is cultural awareness and how can you develop a basis of awareness? Cultural awareness basically means an understanding of a country’s people, customs, common etiquette, laws, and religion. It’s understandable that teachers who head overseas have a lot to become accustomed to, but just beginning to see your new culture with a more open mind will make everything feel less alien more quickly.

We’re including some basic tips below to help international teachers gain some cultural awareness to help ease culture shock:

  • Guide books help a lot – though this might seem like a touristy thing to do, guidebooks include lots of really valuable information about local customs, laws, culture, and etiquette that can help teachers planning on teaching overseas familiarize themselves with some need-to-know information.

  • Do you know anyone currently living in the country that you’re heading to to teach? Reach out to them and ask them about their first few months there.

  • Learning a little of the local language can go a long way. It’ll make you feel less alienated at times. We’ve put together a blog with some really great tips for how to get started on language learning.

  • Take advantage of our social media channels like Facebook, Linkedin, and Twitter to reach out to fellow teach away teachers and ask for advice that you’re seeking.

  • Watching some movies from the country you’re interested in can shine a lot of life on local life and customs as well. try IMDB and browse movie titles by country for some ideas.

We hope these tips help you build a good basis for cultural awareness. We also encourage you to browse our teacher resource page for other helpful information about moving your life overseas.

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