If you are planning to spend a longer amount of time in Argentina (more than a day or two), then it is likely that there are a number of cultural differences that will be very obvious, and potentially upsetting, to foreigners visiting. Like any big change, adapting to a new culture will take some time and the adjustment will get easier as time passes.
Perhaps the most off-putting part of culture shock is the rollercoaster feelings with plenty of ups and downs to keep you confused and uncomfortable. It happens to everyone and the only thing to do is to learn to roll with punches. Use Cover-More’s guide to help navigate the new and unusual cultural traditions of Argentina so you can deal with the emotions and feel comfortable in no time.
It’s hard to be receptive to all the newness around you when you’re in a country where you don’t feel at home, but if you can keep an open mind to how things are done, you’ll have a much higher probability of being able to move forward. Having a positive attitude about Argentina will always help more than carrying your prejudices and predispositions for a culture with you on holiday. By staying open minded you’ll stay sensitive to the locals’ feelings and will be forced to put yourself in their shoes for a spell—making it significantly easier to understand the Argentine culture on a personal level.
If you do a little bit of research about cultural differences between Australia and Argentina, you’ll be able to pick up a few common examples of what could stand out to you. Familiarising yourself with their customs and language may even keep some of the culture shock symptoms at bay because you’ll already know what’s coming. For example, you’ll discover that Argentines generally don’t eat dinner until 10 or 11 at night and don’t start clubbing until 1am at the earliest. Social plans aren’t solidified in advance and are generally left until the last minute. If you’re a vegetarian, you’ll quickly learn how important meat is to Argentine culture. And, of course, the Spanish language is very different than English. Knowing a few key Spanish phrases before you arrive would be incredibly helpful. By coming prepared you’ll know how to anticipate these differences and make you more able to interact comfortably with the locals.
It can be downright intimidating to approach a stranger and ask a question, especially if there is a language barrier to jump over. If you can strike up the confidence to talk to a stranger, you’ll probably be surprised with how friendly and talkative many of the locals in Argentina are and how willing they are to share their history and stories with you. Connecting to people in the culture is a quick way to relate to the differences that may seem to startling to you at first. Plus, being curious is a great way to show respect and interest in their ways of life when otherwise you may miss that insight.
At risk of sounding corny, being positive and optimistic can be a game changer for anyone experiencing cultural shock. Being put into a new culture and country is going to be challenging, but staying positive through it all will teach you how to be adaptive, self-sufficient and flexible in situations where you can’t exercise full control. If nothing else, try to think positively about how travelling is making you a better person and try to live in the moment, enjoying the daily pleasures in life through a different lens.
It’s going to take time to get used to everything that is different in Argentina and even if you are only there for a week, don’t stress too much about getting over the culture shock. Patience is a virtue, and if you are able to do the other four things, in time you won’t even notice the things that bothered you so much at first. Or, at the very least you’ll be able to acknowledge them and move past it.
All of that being said, there is no one set way to deal with culture shock head on, but if you master the list above, you’ll start to feel much better about your time in Argentina and it will help you get through your Argentine experience with a smile on your face and your mind focused on experiencing the country rather than stressing about fitting in or understanding every cultural cue.
Cover-More understands that culture shock is real and that getting over the language barrier is just the beginning. Keep an open mind and protect the other parts of your holiday from unexpected problems with an international travel insurance policy that will keep your itinerary on schedule and your mind at ease.
Image courtesy of Flickr user Wikimania2009