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How to Deal With Culture Shock After Moving Abroad

Posted How-to / July 28, 2021

No man is an island entire of itself and even if you’re as cool as Ibiza, you share some of the values or habits with people in your community, which give you a sense of the familiar. But, during your adventure abroad, that’s gone in a puff and culture shock sets in as you lose that secure home feeling. So, what do you do? Run, or freak out? Goodness no, you read on and soak in our wisdom.

You’ve taken the leap and completed moving overseas, but the new country feels like E.T. meets Sigourney Weaver’s Internecivus Raptus? Sometimes friendly, tame, and cute, and sometimes ferociously incomprehensible. But, guess what, shocked ambivalence is normal and as long as you don’t make cheeky remarks Prince Philip style and ask people whether they’re ready for bed when dressed in a traditional garment, you’ll avoid the Alien franchise scenario with the locals. Stick around as we break down all you should know about adjusting.

What is Culture Shock and How Does It Occur?

Standards you rely on about anything really, from every day, such as food, clothes, and drinks, to abstract such as identity and expression – they all stem from the music and the echo of your past. So, when moving across the world comes into play and you traverse vast distances, what happens?

A blow, an intense and sudden one. You reach the phase of marveling at the new experiences, while also hushing Darth Vader in your head telling you he finds your lack of faith disturbing. Perhaps you miss your grandma’s cooking or those comfort treats they sold at your old local store or it’s deeper and you can’t think of what to say while dating foreigners. Anyway, you basically feel happy and a bit miserable at the same time because those are the rules of adjusting to a new country rollercoaster ride.

All the Mixed Feelings and Mood Swings Can Happen in Different Stages

Learning how to move to another country and translate your cultural code and your soul into the new is similar to falling in love. And the course of love never did run smooth. You’ll experience spells of utmost awe and enthusiasm as well as dark times of doubt. Yet, knowing how to recognize what’s going on might be helpful. Here are the stages your cultural romance is likely to go through (spoiler alert.)

Honeymoon Bliss Is Expected in Stage One

You have bewitched me, body and soul, and I can’t get enough of you, my new country is what you might think at first. So many cool things are around and the relocation stress is getting suppressed as you eat or party your way through the newly discovered land. Be it locals or friendships made while exploring expat communities, you meet this whole lot of amazing individuals with inspiring stories and relentless wanderlust. Does this get any better?

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Irritability and Frustration Play a Very Different Tune in Stage Two

Though the heart be still as loving And the moon be still as bright, you and your new culture can’t make it without a little conflict. When you get exhausted of all the impressions and the initial zeal wears off, you might start seeing the cracks through your rose-colored glasses.

Why can’t anything be on time here? Man, I miss being able to go to the beach everyday. If only they realized how rude it is to say that? Why do I need to learn what is culture shock example this way? If something of a sort goes through your head, you’re at level 2, and figuring out how to live in another country seems like a Sisyphean task.

Adjustment and Adaptation Come as a Reward

You’re no longer strangers or idealists, you committed to each other, and it’s time to see what the future holds. You didn’t flee and documents needed to travel abroad again are no longer used to threaten your new homeland. You’re now finding tools to highlight the things you love and come to terms with those that annoy you and that means your adjustment is drawing to a close and you feel much more relieved.

In case your love is abiding, you may even reach the adaptation scenario, which is the final and most profound connection. You’ll feel like a genuine part of the new milieu and believe that whatever your souls are made of, its and yours are the same. Relocating to another country for love won’t be necessary once more as you’ll revel in the knowledge you’ve made a lasting bond with your second home.

How to Tell the Symptoms of Culture Shock?

People are different and their reaction to the environment varies. Still, being aware of why you experience some emotional states can be a signal to relax and accept the journey. You’re not inept, you’re just going through filtering the two narratives, and that sometimes is absorbing in a negative way. Even in some of the friendliest countries in the world, your exuberance may reach a halt and your mind could utter some of these.

I Want My Home

The first symptom is melancholy, nostalgia, or basically craving for the happy realm of light where everything functions the way you expect it to. You may find yourself prioritizing how to keep in touch with friends and keeping up with the tea in your old place even at the cost of falling behind with vita nuova.

I Want the World to Go Away

Even the best European countries to live in or the most appealing exotic destinations can drag you down sometimes. If some customs and practices upset or startle you to the point of shutting away from locals and you feel misunderstood or lost in translation that’s another sign of the disturbance taking its toll.

How to Use the Otherness to Your Advantage?

Now, that you know all about the two-faced opponent you’ll combat, you’re ready for some practical tips. The dilemma of how to deal with culture shock can have an infinite number of solutions, yet if you try these ones out, you’re highly likely to progress and make the most of your time abroad.

Observe the Customs and the Etiquette as Opportunities to Learn

All the world’s a stage and depending on where your moving overseas unfolds, you’ll enjoy a spectacular play of local customs and behaviors. If you relocate to Turkey, for instance, you’ll become a witness of customs that serve to ward off the evil spirits and the devils, which reflect in knocking on wood or spitting, usually metaphorically, thank god. Besides, if you believe that this is one of the best places to live abroad with family, you might watch or participate in an engagement ritual that consists of three parts and has its roots in the time when the Turks lived as nomadic tribes.

How exactly marriages were arranged or what part does traditional Turskish coffee have in that story is not crucial. The main point is to have the willingness to pose questions and broaden your horizons of the world as that can help you make peace with the unknown.

Don’t Be Dull in Food Choices

For those living in Ottawa, the beautiful frontier of the divine can be as safe as poutine, a simple yet exquisite dish. If however you’re going to Europe and relocating to Portugal, fish is likely to become prominent in your diet, and cod cakes and other seafood delicacies will be available from all sides. Finally, those embarking on Asian adventures will have a whole different moveable feast to experiment with.

And nobody is saying you should close your eyes to your limits. Simply remember that food is inseparable from our personal histories and national identities, to quote a famous chef. So, if you stick to international chains and the things you know, your negative might outweigh the positive as the unfamiliar won’t be replaced with the appreciative.

Shift to Gestures of the New Country

Body language is something people accept intuitively and if you research what gestures mean in your new place, you’ll do yourself a favor from the onset. Why risk someone’s wrath when you can familiarize with offensive gestures and keep yourself a spot at breaking the language barrier meetings.

For instance, if you’re relocating to Bangkok or another Asian metropolis, remember that pointing to people with your index finger is perceived as a threat to someone’s personal integrity and is not welcome generally speaking.

How Do You Get Through Culture Shock in Terms of Perspectives?

Once you pick up all the places where locals like to hang out (those are cemeteries in Denmark by the way) and the flavors they like to combine and the best times to go shopping, you’ll arrive at another level of shock, the more profound one. What do concepts represent here and how will that reflect your life? Here are some suggestions to help you.

Cherish the Pace of the Locals

Time is subjective and while some cultures relish the slow and stress-free usage of it, others highly appreciate punctuality and fast-paced days. Getting to feel how your new home breathes can be invaluable to you as you see how you should feel about the need for speed.

An example of this could be relocating to Spain, where a break for workers during the day called siesta is still alive in some parts. And if you set up home in the land of Iberia, you’ll start feeling the insubordinate attitude of its inhabitants towards time. God has created it for enjoyment’s sake, so don’t expect things to run by schedule.

Learn What Words Really Mean

Tips for learning a new language will aid you in gaining control of what words mean lexically, but to get to the pragmatic meaning you have to immerse in the target culture. If you’re relocating to Ireland or another part of the UK, you should prepare to master all the nuances of sorry and please and make sure you do understand what is being implied. And this piece of advice is applicable for all countries if you want to avoid being Eliza Doolittle who somehow manages to miss every single conversational intent of her interlocutors.

Don’t Jump to Conclusions About People

In the midst of it all, it’s easy to assign qualities to locals that seem governed by principles and mindsets completely different than yours. You might be tempted to conclude that some people aren’t friendly or that they’re reserved and hostile, but that could only be part of the story. For instance, if you’re relocating to Russia, you might feel some coldness at first, but if you pursue the why further, you’ll learn that Russians have a distinctive mental set that cherishes personal space, and gradual opening up to other people. Take a look at the following video if you’d like to find out how you can learn culture in different ways.

An Overseas Shipping Company Can Help You Relax As You Become a Global Citizen

International moving becomes a piece of cake if professionals lend a hand and you’re one step closer to immersing in the new with superb packing services. Getting one international moving company to do it all, coupled with renting storage facilities or using the car shipping service might mean more time for you to research and get ready for what’s ahead.

Learning the core values of a place, inscribed in all its aspects is not easy, and is eventually unfathomable. But, don’t give up, through striving, seeking, and not yielding, you can create a happy life in a home far from home.

Blake Shaw

Bostonian and residential moving and packing expert. Blake Shaw enjoys bar-hopping, music, and writing insightful content.

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