When moving abroad, it’s inevitable that you’ll experience some form of culture shock. Culture shock is the experience of moving to an alien environment in which the unfamiliarity leads to an increase in anxiety and nerves. After the initial excitement of arriving in your new country, it can take weeks, if not months, to find your rhythm. Culture shock is extremely common and for 99% of people, as you continue to live your new way of life, you’ll find you eventually slip into the new culture.
So what can you do to make the transition easier? Well, there are things you can do before and during your experience to help.
Visiting your new destination means when you arrive on a more permanent basis, you won’t be as taken aback at the lifestyle. You can discover what you do and don’t like, and if you’re choosing between a whole country, you can find the most liveable city for your wants and needs. Having this control over your situation generates familiarity, and will ease the process when you’re ready to take the leap.
Researching your destination and its culture will prepare you for the shift in dynamic if you don’t have the opportunity to visit. Reading blogs, watching videos and learning from other expats is a great way to grow accustomed and not be caught off guard. It’s always advisable to hear from those who actually live in the area, as tourist perspectives often have rose-tinted glasses.
Talking to other expats and locals before you move will give you a sense of security and take away the daunting thought of starting anew with relationships. Use Facebook groups, the MeetUp app and other forums such as Reddit to uncover the online communities that millions of people use each year when moving.
Staying positive and not comparing your new home to your old one is very important. Keep an open mind and understand that it’s just a different way of life. Going into the move with a positive mind will massively impact how you deal with the culture shock.
Join local clubs and groups to create genuine connections and have familiarity. As soon as you have a security network around you, your culture shock will start to ebb away. By joining local groups, not only will you feel a part of the community but you’ll also have something to look forward to.
Learning the language may sound obvious, but to freelancers or those who are working for a company in their own language, it can be easy just to idle by. However, having an idea about what’s going on around you will reduce paranoia and make you feel less alien. Attending a local language school also ties into the above point, and as a general rule, locals are much friendlier to those who put in the effort with the language.
Start small by finding little bits of everyday life which you enjoy. From discovering a new coffee shop to talking to your local grocer. Take small steps rather than giant leaps to ease you into your new home.
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