How to Deal with Culture Shock Effectively?

The Culture Shock Tool Kit – Unique Approach for Helping Expats Live International Experiences to the Fullest

Margarita-Gokun-SilverThe Culture Shock Tool Kit was developed by Margarita Gokun Silver, Expatriate and Cross-Cultural Coach.

Margarita was born in one country, holds a citizenship of another, and has been living in different countries for now almost 15 years. She considers herself a global nomad and a perpetual expatriate. When she thinks of the fact that for the first few years of her life she could only dream of seeing other places, then this is her dream come true!

Margarita founded Global Coach Center because she wanted to help others enjoy their expatriate and international experiences as much as she does. Global Coach Center is a coaching firm that works exclusively with expatriates, cross-cultural professionals, and global workers.

The Global Coach Center is a coaching and consulting firm that offers both individual and group programs. The firm works with individuals on cross-cultural training, consulting, and coaching. For groups the firm offers local staff cross-cultural training and facilitation of effective working relationships between expatriates and their local staff force.

You can find more information at the Global Coach Center blog.

Expats Guide: Most expats are experiencing culture shock when relocating overseas. What is culture shock?

Margarita: Culture shock is often defined as a roller coaster of emotions we feel when we enter and have to adjust to a culture (or environment) that’s not our own. These emotions can bring on symptoms that range from those experienced by our body (aches, pains, allergies) and those experienced by our mind (sadness, depression, anger, loss of identity, etc).

Expats Guide: There are five stages of culture shock known in the literature. Could you please describe them briefly?

Margarita: The first stage is what’s commonly referred to as the Honeymoon stage when everything in the new culture/place seems interesting and fascinating.

The second stage is characterized by negative feelings because it begins as soon as we start engaging actively in local living. Examples may include dealing with the delivery of the shipment (or consistent lack of it!); setting up the household; starting to grocery shop for the first time; encountering an Internet issue, or worse… a plumbing problem. Daily struggles, difficulty communicating and, in general, differences between how life functions at home and in this new place is what produces deep dissatisfaction, hostility, anger, sadness, and feelings of incompetence.

The third stage is when things begin to look up. We learn the necessities of our new life, learn how to ask for things we need, and, in general, we begin to gain some understanding of the new place.

The fourth stage is when we’ve completely adjusted to living where we are. We realize that this new place has both good and bad things to offer. We no longer fret a lot about the bad things and we enjoy the good things immensely.

The fifth stage is the re-entry stage, the stage when we have to return back home. Many things we encounter on our return might be new to us since we’ve been absent for a number of years. Our friends have moved on and we still miss the friends and connections we’ve made in the country/place we left.

Expats Guide: Some of the stages are really tough. Is it really necessary to go through all those stages in order to reach to the one that makes you feel the best?

Margarita: I believe it’s not necessary to go through all the stages to get to a better one. If you look at the definitions of the stages, those definitions describe our responses to an environment that surrounds us. And we know that, while we cannot often control our environment, we can certainly control our emotional response to that environment. Which is why it’s completely up to us to decide which stage we want to be in – and my Tool Kit helps people get to that stage.

Expats Guide: What about reverse culture shock? Do expats experience similar stages of culture shock when they repatriate?

Margarita: Reverse culture shock happens to quite a few people and, while it may not have the same conditions as the regular one, it’s emotional effect can be just as great, if not greater. When expats return, they have a certain level of expectations – expectations that may not always come true as they settle back into their “home” lives. We all keep the fondest memories of the past and at times make them even better in our minds. So imagine returning home after a very long absence and finding that things are not as you made them out to be in your dreams. The effect can be quite staggering.

Expats Guide: What is unique about the tools you developed that can assist expats to deal effectively with culture shock?

Margarita: The tools I developed come from my coaching background and blend approaches that until now have not been applied to Culture Shock and its management. I am using research by such renowned relationship expert as Dr. Gottman and I apply his findings in the marriage field to my findings in the Culture Shock field. I am also using tools I have learned through the co-active coaching model and the Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP).

Blending of all these approaches is what makes my tool kit unique and one of a kind.

Expats Guide: Does your approach suit all expats (professionals, students, travelers, trailing spouses etc’)

Margarita: I believe so. My tool kit builds upon our innate human ability to be creative, wise, and resourceful. It elicits the internal wisdom of everyone who reads it and that’s why it’s not specific at all to your situation, your professional status, or your position in the expat world.

Expats Guide: Would you recommend future expats to read your guide even before they experienced culture shock, and why?

Margarita: I recommend the tool kit for those who have just moved or those who have moved a while ago, but still may have issues with their current place of residence. This Tool Kit will serve you throughout every move you’ll ever make. It’s better to go through it, if you are already in the culture that’s new or foreign to you, because you’ll have a lot more information to use during the exercises and the steps in the kit.

Expats Guide: Could veteran expats who have been through several countries, and through all five stages of culture shock, benefit from your guide?

Margarita: I believe so. Even veteran expats sometimes find themselves in the grips of culture shock, even if they don’t call it that. The Tool Kit allows the reader to develop a skill that they will find useful whenever they transition or move. As human beings we always thrive to learn and even if we think we’re already good at something, it doesn’t mean we cannot get better at it!

Expats Guide: How long have you been implementing your approach?

Margarita: I started with this approach about four years ago, when I created a presentation on the subject. I received so many comments about it! Veteran and new expats were all telling me how they’ve studied Culture Shock before, but how my approach was so much fresher and so much more interesting. And so I thought that I’d like to make this approach more available. And since I cannot possibly travel to every place on Earth where expats live, I created this E-book.

Expats Guide: Could you please share with us some success stories of expats that have used your culture shock tools kit?

Margarita: There was one expat who said something that stuck with me until now. She said that she has been an expatriate and travelled the world for over 20 years and my approach to Culture Shock was the first material that has taught her something. She is an example of a veteran expatriate who found this Tool Kit incredibly useful.

Another story comes from an expat whose first experience was not a very happy one. When she read my Tool Kit after leaving, she said that she would have really liked to have it during her tough times because it would have been very helpful.

Expats Guide: I would like to add that I have been through several posting abroad, and reading your e-book made me realize how much easier my adjustment to expatriate living would have been if I had your tool kit with me.

I will most definitely use your approach and will do the exercises you suggest in our next posting.

Thank You Margarita and I wish you best of luck with your important work



Would you like to have a better adjustment to expatriate living?

It is so easy to achieve!

Just grab a copy of the Culture Shock Tool Kit

And you are on the right path!

Margarita wanted to make her tool kit available to as many expatriates as possible, no matter what language they speak.

And therefore:

You can choose to have the kit in English, Spanish or Russian

For full access to the culture kit you’ll need to enter
a one time “enrolment key” which is – HT12$frs)jk

Click here and choose the kit in your preferred language


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