Moving to a different country is a new chapter in the life of many people. Often this move requires lots of sudden changes in our lifestyle. Our environment shifts, our neighbours change and most of all we see a rapid shift in our culture.
This sudden change in culture can create many overwhelming challenges. This is called culture shock. It is a real phenomenon faced by many ex-pats living in foreign countries. However, this shock is nothing to worry about as it is natural, and it takes time to adjust in a new environment.
If you are an ex-pat experiencing culture shock, here is a list of 5 things that you can do to improve your situation and get a better grip of the new culture.
You have left all your previous habits, changed your environment and are surrounded by new customs and people. Know that initially, you will face powerful feelings of insecurity and confusion. And it is totally normal. After all, you have completely changed the way you lived your previous life.
Understand that adjusting will take time. You will feel homesick, you will experience new challenges, but you will get used to everything with time. Realize the feelings you are going through and understand that it’s cultural shock and happens to every ex-pat that starts a new life. It is entirely normal, and it resolved on its own with time.
2. Keep an open mind
Starting your life in a new country is an experience of a lifetime. While you’re at it, try to make the best out of it. Instead of being overwhelmed by the change, focus on all the benefits and new things you previously didn’t have. Try to see things from a different perspective and teach yourself to adapt.
Make the most out of your opportunities and look at all the new places and culture you have to explore. Visit historical sites, learn new languages and try to blend in with the locals and make the most out of your experience.
3. Stay active
Often, people restrict themselves to their new homes when they change countries. The new environment is overwhelming. Why not spend your time in your home where it feels safe, right? Get out of your comfort zone and explore the area you live in. Create a routine and go out and exercise every day.
Instead of sitting home alone all by yourself, try to get a coffee at the cafe nearby and maybe blend in with some locals. Who knows you might make new friends and find people with similar interests as you have. Exercise, befriend your neighbours, go to the beach and try to stay active by exploring your new country.
4. Keep in touch with your Home country
Keep in contact with your family back home by video calling them every often. Share how you feel and tell them about the new country. Connect with your friends on social media and keep in touch with your home country.
Try to recreate a similar environment in your new home. Search online recipes and make cultural dishes from your home. Find other ex-pats from your country living in your area and go and meet them. Communicating with your friends and family will comfort you and make it easier to cope with loneliness.
5. Make New Friends
The best way to feel familiar with the new place is to make friends and mix in with the locals. Take language classes and be friendly with your employees and fellow students if you are studying.
Once you have people you can look up to, it won’t feel as lonely as it once did. Your new friends will help you learn new things better, you can hang out with them and it will make your experience a lot more enjoyable.
Culture shock happens to the best of us. As ex-pats, its the first challenge for many new people. But, it’s not a lasting feeling. It will feel overwhelming at first, but you will eventually adapt and get used to things. Using these techniques above will help you explore your unique environment, feel comfortable with it and the best out of your new culture.