Top 10 Strategies to Handle Culture shock in Canada


Some immigrant or visitors who travel or visit Canada do experience what is commonly referred to as culture shock, when you arrive Canada for the first time New sights, smells, sounds, people, and customs can be intimidating or even scary when all experienced at once especially when they are very different from the country you grew up in.

Interestingly, you may also experience “reverse culture shock in Canada” after traveling or living in another country for a long time.

In these cases, the environment in your home country can feel just as confusing as the new one first did if you’ve been away for a long time.

And while some people love the feeling of culture shock because it makes them excited to explore a new culture, others never learn to handle it and it can have a negative effect on your settlement in a new country.

Here, we discuss the four stages of culture shock in Canada, and you will learn the strategies to handle culture shock in Canada.

What is Culture shock in Canada 

Culture shock in Canada refers to feelings of uncertainty, confusion, or anxiety that people may experience when they move to Canada for the first time or experiencing a new culture or surroundings. This cultural adjustment is normal and is the result of being in an unfamiliar environment.

Many people go through several steps, or stages, in their adaptation process to a new country. Some take longer than others to adapt and this may be related to having lived life under very different conditions and circumstances than those experienced in Canada.

In some instances, adaptation can appear to be long and painful. At the same time, all the years adapting to a new country can help you grow and strengthen family bonds. It is a period of learning new things. Sometimes people discover skills and qualities that they never knew they had.

The following information will provide you with some understanding of the process you and your family might go through and also the strategies that can be used to handle culture shock in Canada.

Stages of Culture shock in Canada

There are four stages of culture shock you might experience in Canada. Although most people go through these stages during the first years of settlement, many people can experience them at different times in their lives, regardless of the number of years you will live in a new country. This stages are;

  1. Euphoria period – Fascination stage
  2. Disenchantment (Frustration or irritation and anger) stage
  3. Gradual adjustment (or recovery) stage
  4. Acceptance(Adjustment of acculturation)  stage

Stage 1. Euphoria period – Fascination

Just before or shortly after arriving in Canada you may be excited and have many hopes and expectations. This is an exciting time. Everything is so new and different. During this period, some people feel very confident and can easily deal with problems and stress. During this period, immigrants also tend to focus on similarities with their own culture and country.

You may also have high hopes that everything you dreamed and heard about Canada is going to make your life much easier.

Stage 2. Disenchantment (frustration or irritation and anger)

During the first six months you will have some good experiences and some less enjoyable ones as well. You may feel very happy about the challenges you have had to face or feel very frustrated, confused, and even depressed about the difficulties you are facing. It is not uncommon to feel very positive one day and very negative the next.

At this point, the focus may turn from similarities to differences. You suddenly look at everything with different eyes. Canadians do not seem as friendly as you originally thought. Life is so fast, complicated and stressful.

Then you will realize they are so many rules and regulations., You start missing your family and feeling rootless in Canada.

Symptoms experienced during this period are;

  • finding it hard to go to work or to look for work.
  • developing problems with your partner and children.
  • feeling guilty about leaving family members behind.

Stage 3. Gradual adjustment (or recovery)

During the stage of adjustment you begin to understand how services and programs work in Canada. You may be able to communicate better.

During this stage you might:

  • start to feel that you are gaining control of your life as you get a better understanding of Canada, Canadian people and culture.
  • feel more confident in your language skills, if that is a problem.
  • gradually get involved in the community.
  • have a better understanding of how to adapt to life in Canada.
  • have a better idea of what you need to do to get what you want.
  • find that your sense of humor returns.

Stage 4. Acceptance(Adjustment of acculturation)

At this stage You now feel more comfortable in your new culture, you also feel more relaxed and you find yourself thinking that this place is your new home.

During this stage you might:

  • feel more comfortable in your new culture
  • have made some new friends
  • get more involved
  • understand the new system better
  • no longer regret coming to Canada
  • develop a balance between the values you want to keep from your culture and those from your new culture
  • study, plan to return to school, work, or plan to get a better job
  • feel content most of the time

The stages of adaptation are not always linear, meaning you don’t always finish one stage and move to the next. Instead, the stages of adaptation are more like a spiral, where you might progress in some areas while still experiencing challenges in others.

In any case, every new challenge might become a good experience to learn about yourself and to build your capacity to deal with stress and change.

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Top 10 Strategies to Handle Culture shock in Canada

There are many strategies to handle culture shock in Canada. Here, we are going to highlight the top 10 strategies on how to make yourself feel more at home in your new country.

#1. Admit that these impacts exist.

It is not a sign of weakness to admit that you feel uncomfortable, tense or confused. feel free to admit that these impacts exist.

#2. Learn the rules of living in your new country.

Try to understand how and why the local people act the way they do. Their behavior and customs, although they may be different from your own, are neither better nor worse than what you are used to. Most importantly, before moving or travelling to new country, you should have it in mind that there must be rule and regulations you must abide with.

#3. Get involved in some aspect of the new culture.

Whether you study art or music, or learn a new sport or hobby, being an interested student will make a world of difference. what so ever the aspect of the new culture is, try and get involved.

#4. Take time to learn the language.

It always helps to understand as much as possible of what people are saying. They will appreciate your effort to communicate with them in their language, even if it is just a few simple phrases, and it will make your daily life much easier. Therefore taking time to learn a new language is very important.

#5. Take care of yourself.

Taking good care of your body is very important, it also helps you to handle culture shock in a new environment. Always eat well , exercise and take the time to sleep. Limit your alcohol consumption to moderate amounts.

#6. Travel.

Take the time to be a tourist and explore the country’s sights, by so doing you will be able to handle culture shock in Canada

#7. Make friends and develop relationships.

Getting to know local people will help you overcome cultural differences and understand the country. It will also show you how to be more sensitive to cultural expectations.

#8. Maintain contact with friends and family back home.

Writing home about your experiences and problems can help you sort through them. It is also a good idea to keep a journal of your feelings and thoughts.

#9. Do something that reminds you of home.

Listening to your favorite music or practicing a familiar hobby can boost your spirits when you are feeling homesick.

#10. Avoid idealizing life back home.

Try to make the most of your new home and try to keep an open mind.

In any case, every new challenge might become a good experience to learn about yourself and to build your capacity to deal with stress and change.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long will culture shock last?

Sometimes the symptoms of culture shock last just a few days, but more often they last weeks or even months. It may sometimes seem like your friends adjust easily while you are suffering.

What is the first stage of culture shock in Canada? 

the first stage of Culture shock is the Euphoria period – Fascination stage.


Moving to Canada as a foreigner, there are high possibilities that you may experience culture shock in Canada. When it happens, you can you the top 10 strategies mention in this article to handle it.



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