Travel Tip Tuesday: Take the Shock Out of Culture Shock-Five Tips for Travelers Visiting Italy

Last week Andrew Whittaker of Speak the Culture wrote a post about coping with culture shock. It was interesting because Whittaker didn’t take the stance of an expat or long-term traveler trying to adjust to a new culture but rather that of an average traveler.

Although I’m slightly obsessed with culture shock and the stages expats endure on our path to security, I’d never given much thought to what travelers experience when they enter a new country.

Whittaker is right on when he describes the sensation of disorientation we  experience in their first few days of a foreign vacation. Adjusting to the new sounds, a new language, eating habits, climate and customs can be exciting for some travelers, but most would agree that the vacation really starts once your comfort level rises and feel a sense of security.

Speak the Culture listed five tips for helping travelers adjust to culture shock. I’d love for you to read the article-so I’m not going to list his tips here, but I am going to add a few of my own.

Here are five more tips to help you quickly adjust to culture shock so you can get on with your Italian vacation.

Confused.comphoto credit: acearchie

1. Read Books Set in Italy

Most travelers agree nothing gets them “in the mood” for an upcoming trip more than a good novel or nonfiction book that is set in the country they are planning to visit. While it is a good way to learn history of an area  or get an idea for a new place to visit, books are also a great way to introduce you to the country.

The more you learn before you get here, the easier your transition into Italy will be. To get you started, here is an extensive list of books that are set in Italy.

2. Interact with Bloggers

and don’t dismiss the negative things they say.

Many Italy-bound travelers dismiss negative comments made by expat bloggers and I’ve been personally-well, virtually-attacked for alluding to Italy’s flaws.

However, by reading and interacting with bloggers who are based here, you can be conscious of the country’s eccentricities before you arrive, thus taking the shock out of culture shock.

3. Follow Twitterers and Facebook Fan Pages of People Who Live (or Travel Often) to Italy

Take your research one step further by following Twitter users who live or travel often to Italy or by joining their Facebook Fan Pages.

4. Don’t Dive In

As I’ve said before, you shouldn’t jump into your Italian vacation without taking a day or so to get settled.  Don’t plan anything big the day you arrive in Italy. Instead, get settled into your hotel, then take a stroll around town, enjoy an apertivo at a nearby bar or sit in a busy piazza and people watch.

While this helps you feel more relaxed and ready for your adventure, it also serves as a way to slowly introduce you to Italy’s culture.

5. Document It

Journaling is therapeutic for many people and can serve as a way to help you connect your home culture to the new experiences you are having in Italy. It can help you release any frustrations by getting them on paper and will later serve as a fond reminder of your vacation.

What other tips do you have for travelers wanting to quickly acclimate to Italy?

Until next time … Buon Viaggio!

7 Responses
  1. How interesting. I’d never really thought about it from the point of view of a short-term holidayer. I suppose it depends on what you want to get out of your holiday: if, as most holidaymakers do, all you want is to get away from routine and normal life for a week or two, then I’m not sure it’s all that important to necessarily become *part* of the culture. However, if you want to get that bit deeper into the country’s psyche, then it adds to the holiday, no doubt.

    I agree it isn’t necessary to be part of the culture if you are just passing through, but understanding the culture and being less apprehensive would definitely help you feel more comfortable and thus, enjoy your vacation more easily.

    .-= Katja´s last blog ..Eating the Italian way =-.

  2. My father traveled to Italy in 1998 and I am in possession of his journal. He kept very detailed accounts of his trip along with a great number of pictures. I would really like to transcribe his journal to the computer but his writing is tiny and in pencil so it’s going to be a tedious job. I need a good light and magnifier. But I did notice that he must have been told some of these tips because he did take time to settle in and adjust to the climate and culture before beginning the real purpose of his trip-visiting his parents’ hometown and relatives.
    Thanks for writing so many great tips.

    Prego, Michelle. I think you will be happy in the end if you take the time to work on those notes!

    .-= Michelle @ Italian Mama Chef´s last blog ..Pizza, pizza and more pizza! =-.

  3. Half the reason for my trips all my life has been to experience cultural shock, awe, flavor and savor! I think travelers should just relax and let it wash over them. Isn’t a vacation about getting out? Vacating? Living differently for a while?


  4. I agree with Judith… If you are going short term, half the fun is diving in without having too many expectations. That said, I read some of your culture-shock for expats posts, and yeah… that ‘anger’ stage can get rough. Luckily nowadays the Internet helps quite a bit. When I first moved to Italy, there was no Internet, no satellite tv, etc. That was rough when I was dying for a little mother tongue 🙂

    Ooooh, I bet, Michael. I’ve actually been writing (in my mind) a post about different it was being an expat before we had the Internet, Skype, etc. etc.

    .-= Michael Kovnick´s last blog ..In Search of the Perfect Espresso =-.

  5. Hi Cherrye
    Thanks for pointing people in the direction of our tips. And great to read some of your own. The suggestion about books set in Italy is spot on – there are some great travel guides out there (and each has its role to play), but nothing puts you inside the skin of a native quite like reading a good novel; a story that allows you to see the country through their eyes, whether it’s tough reality (like Levi’s ‘Christ Stopped at Eboli’) or romantic escapism (Antony Capella’s ‘The Wedding Officer’).

    Thanks for stopping by, Andrew. Books are also a great way (for me) to do a little armchair travelin’ for those stretches when I’m stuck in Italy! 🙂

    .-= andrew´s last blog ..Sample chapter download =-.

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