Many people like the idea of trying their luck and living in a foreign country. It sounds so dreamy and romantic. But the reality for many expatriates is that after arriving in their new country, they realize that there are often hard realities of living abroad. Facing cultural differences has never been the easiest job of one’s life. You do not only miss your friends and family in the new place, but you also miss your own culture.
And culture, as social anthropologists say, is our general way of life. By adopting this definition, you tend to miss everything, everything you have done since birth, everything you are used to like food, customs, attitudes, languages — just everything.
The problem multiplies if the new culture belongs to a linguistic group different from yours, and if your knowledge in this language does not allow you to communicate effectively. Communication errors, misunderstandings ensue, and if you are not an extrovert, like those who are shy and have trouble making friends quickly in a different environment, the problem can even lead to depression.
At Palmers Relocation, we help you ease the stress that often accompanies with the experience of moving to another country or culture.
HOW TO ADAPT TO A NEW CULTURE
The following tips will help you on how to adapt to new cultures, especially when you move overseas in a foreign country.
Feel At Home
The first thing you should do after unpacking your last bag is to sit in your new space. But do not just settle in, make your space really feel at home with things that remind you of home – things that help you feel better. If you cannot bring items from home, find things that will make your home more comfortable. Candles, blankets, plants – all are relatively inexpensive but provide some warmth and comfort. Hang pictures of your home or country, friends and family in your space. Not only will they remind you of everything you love, but they will also help you feel safe when you try to settle again.
If you have a budget and do not want to spend too much, the best thing to do is to focus on the room where you spend most of your time. If you like to cook, make cooking the priority. Buy cooking utensils, beautiful plates and glasses to make you feel good cooking in your space. If you are a reader who spends a lot of time on the couch, focus on creating a comfortable space in the living room. Create a main space where you will feel good and more at home.
Get Acquainted With The Environment
Take out time to acquaint with your new environment. Find out all the necessary places you need to cut your hair, shop, do laundry, and hang out. Spend a few mornings a week exploring cafes and breakfast places, carrying a book or notebook with you to write down your thoughts and feelings, which can help you identify the most disconcerting things about your move.
If you do not speak the local language, try. Take a translation book with you. It’s amazing how far you can go with just a few words. Let people know that you have just moved in and they will be more than happy to welcome you.
Being a tourist
Even if you are now a resident, it’s a good idea to get by on your own and to go sightseeing. Go sightseeing. Stroll the streets. Discover how your city is so unique. And while you take photos and absorb the local atmosphere, you will also hear what strangers say about your current place of residence.
To keep cultural shock at bay, you must meet locals and develop friendships. There are many ways to do it based on your interests. The search for local clubs and organizations can provide the ideal environment for meeting persons with similar interests. Whether it’s a sport, a hobby, or a particular cultural affiliation, most cities have local clubs or dating groups that you can join.
Take a class
Taking a course, interest or learning something new, such as the local language, is an easy way to meet locals. Just like clubs, classes have the potency of bringing people together who share a common goal and interest. Besides, you will meet individuals of different ages and different regions. If you take a course and learn another language, you will also meet other foreigners who may or may not share your culture, but who share your experience.
Volunteering is another excellent way to get to know people and build strong relationships. It is an excellent choice for you if you want to get involved and feel part of their new community. Volunteer positions can be found online, via local ads or publications, or simply by asking. Look for neighbourhood organizations of interest that interest you and introduce yourself by letting them know what you can offer.
If the language is an obstacle, just start volunteer for mailing or canning canned goods for a local food bank. Depending on your mother tongue, the local community centre or school may need a language teacher. Teaching is one of the best ways to share your culture and language, but also to learn the mother tongue. Students are always the best teachers.
Join an expat community
Although joining a group of expatriates is often the first place a foreign worker or traveller turns when cultural shock sets in, it can foster a more isolationist environment in which you find yourself with persons who share a language and a common culture, thus preventing you from becoming more integrated. However, if you have trouble adapting, meeting people from your home country is not a bad thing – do everything in your power to help you through this challenging transition.
Expatriate communities can also help you maintain your culture, especially if you have moved permanently and want to ensure that links to your home country are maintained.
Do not forget to find the elements that help you feel at home in your host country and soon, before you know it. You will inform the tourists and tell other travellers what the best places to find restaurants, take away and good coffees.
If you have never been to a new culture, imagine yourself in an environment where you do not speak the language, do not understand its customs and culture, and conversely, and do not make things worse. Do not even have someone to share your feelings with. Our mind and body take time to adjust to new things, and if life needs to move faster, depression is often the next step.