There are many ways to successfully adapt to your host culture. It is important to handle "culture shock" with adaptability, a sense of humor, and a lot of common sense. Give yourself time to become accustomed to the cultural differences. You may even find that many of the differences are a pleasant change from your way of life.
The following suggestions should help you make the most out of your volunteer experience:
- Learn as much as you can about Argentina’s social and cultural context;
- Be patient: volunteering is mainly an adaptation process. Know that any disorientation you feel is normal and keep in mind that given time, the effects you feel from culture shock will likely pass;
- Be flexible and open-minded;
- Be tolerant of ambiguity while taking time to be familiar with your surroundings. Realize that often the people in the country you visit have time concepts and thought pattern different from your own. This does not necessarily make them rude, only different;
- Work on increasing your language proficiency. Many of the misunderstandings and confusion you experience abroad are a result of the language barrier;
- Be commited and responsible. Stay motivated!
- If your Spanish is not good engough, you might feel that your contribution is small, but remember that your presence at the project is very important all the same: Provide EMOTIONAL support and be a role model!
- Cultural exchange requires interaction with locals: take the iniciative!
- Observe before acting;
Dress accordingly. If you’re working in a slum, dress simply but with clean clothes. Cleanliness shows respect towards the people you are working with.