After moving internationally you will find yourself immersed in a totally new environment and culture. No matter how exciting moving abroad is, lack of familiarity can be very overwhelming at first. An international move comes with a series of challenges, mixed emotions and effects of change.
It’s extremely important to identify symptoms of a culture shock and to learn how to ease the stress that is usually associated with long-distance moves to another state. Hopefully reading the following guidelines will help you get an insight into a wide range of emotions that accompany moving internationally.
Why is it so difficult to adjust to life abroad?
While there are a lot of benefits of moving abroad (endless job opportunities, better life standard, personal growth), adapting to a new culture can be a bit complicated and overwhelming. People usually tend to highlight only the positive aspects of living abroad. But let’s shed some light on the difficulties that may come along.
– In the beginning you may feel like the odd one out. Even after you settle into your new home you may feel like you belong somewhere else.
– For some people making new friends is more complicated than expected. Misunderstandings and miscommunications are also part of the adaptation process which can get extremely overwhelming quite often.
– You feel uncomfortable being so far away from your friends, relatives and your previous life. Being outside of your comfort zone, you need to find an efficient way to overcome confusion, disorientation and frustration.
– Uncertainty may seem disorienting and upsetting. Embrace the fact that there will be times when you will want to pack up your belongings and give up. Whenever you’re feeling down, try to focus on the positive aspects of the move and don’t give up!
How to relieve culture shock after moving internationally
It should come as no surprise that the culture and lifestyle of the place you are moving to is very different from your previous cultural background. As a result, you may find it hard to fit in and feel at home after you move.
– Prepare yourself mentally ahead of time by learning more about your future home. Before you get an in-person experience, take advantage of various sources to get a clear idea of what your life will look like once you move to a new home. Learn as much as possible about the local tradition and population.
– Know what the culture shock is before you experience it. When subjected to an unfamiliar environment people may react differently, but there are certain stages most people experience as they find themselves in a new culture.
- extreme homesickness
- constant feeling of loneliness and sadness
- physical pain, headaches, fatigue
- irritability and vulnerability
- feeling insecure and disoriented
- overeating and lack of appetite
Although culture shock is usually considered a psychosocial condition, it can significantly affect your physiological functions. Most of the above mentioned processes are unconscious, so it’s difficult to be fully prepared. But at least you can recognize and handle them properly once they appear.
Moving to another state is not just going to a long holiday. The truth is that the relocation itself will pose a lot of challenges throughout the process. How you will overcome those challenges and adapt to totally unfamiliar, new patterns depends on your flexibility and mindset.
How to adapt to a new culture when moving internationally
Moving to another state presents one of the most complex life-changing events one can face. Contrary to popular belief, culture shock may occur even when moving from one city to another within the same country. Culture shock often refers to the physical and emotional discomfort that usually sets in after moving to a new country/state.
We will share some tips and tricks on how to stay on track and handle the stress of the transition to another culture. In spite of the initial excitement about the move, suddenly you may find yourself overwhelmed by various negative emotions. It’s important to be patient and to take good care of yourself.
Having done a thorough research in advance, you know what to expect when it comes to the local customs, language, climate, schools, shops,… Also, better business opportunities is one of the main reasons why people decide to move abroad. Therefore, unless you have an arranged job at your new location, you should know your employment options.
Guidelines to overcoming a culture shock
– Make your new place feel home as much as possible. Having unpacked the entire household, it’s time to settle into your new home. Try to recreate the familiar surroundings, add instant atmosphere with some candles, soft rugs, photos, plants and paintings. Surround yourself with favorite items, memorabilia and whatever makes you feel comfortable. Those tiny details will help you feel more secure while you are trying to adjust to the new environment.
– Explore your new neighborhood. Settling into a new neighborhood is the best way to get into your regular routine. Once you locate all your points of interest (restaurants, schools, parks, grocery stores, bars, pharmacies,…) you will regain a sense of security.
– Introduce yourself to your neighbors. After moving abroad you will realize that strong relationships with people is what you miss the most. Even if you are in the middle of the moving hustle and bustle, take a couple of moments out of your busy schedule to greet your new neighbors politely. Also, consider organizing a housewarming party where you can gather both old and new friends, neighbors and coworkers. It’s time for you to have some fun after a tiresome moving experience.
– Take part in the local community and social clubs. Try to get to know people with similar interests so as reduce the effects of culture shock. Attend local events that bring people with similar focus together.
– Stay away from people and activities that may drain your energy. While you previous life was surely amazing, try to focus on positive aspects of the new one. Maintain positive attitude and look forward to what’s to come in order to ease your intercultural transition.