Relocating to a foreign country is the greatest experience for you to grow, see a different world and actually experience a new culture from within. For those ready to take on this challenge, understanding the best way to adjust to a different culture that you’re not accustomed to is key. Being proactive in identifying the ups and downs of your journey will enable you to handle and overcome these challenges.
The cultural adjustment process goes through 4 different stages:
The Honeymoon phase is the very first stage you will experience at your arrival. It comes with serendipitous joy, the excitement of discovering new things and a strong willingness to learn from the new culture you are exposed to.
- Be bold. Try new food, drinks, languages, music, dance, etc.
- Ask questions, share your story and culture, make friends right away
- Embrace everything different and stock all those first memories somewhere in your min
This second phase is characterized by irritation and hostility. After the euphoria of the first weeks, you will start feeling annoyed by whatever is different and below your home country’s standards. You’ll be missing your friends and family, looking for your national peers and avoiding your hosts. Frustration, anger and stress might come up as well.
- Try to stay positive and patient with whatever is bothering you
- Bear with it and do whatever you like most in the new country but don’t go back home yet 🙂
- Surround yourself with friends to cheer you up
- Remember why you came here in a first place and keep discovering/traveling around
After the storm the sun shines. The new culture begins to make sense and now you’ll have a better reading of it. You’ll feel more at ease, not as much of a foreigner anymore and start accepting the differences. What once would have provoked anger will now give you a smile.
- Go deeper into the culture to better understand it: visit museums, read national authors, see movies, talk about politics/history/sports, and so on.
- Be flexible and tolerant with yourself: you will experience ups and downs all along this phase
- Give perspective to your experience and view it in a bigger context – you may question some assumptions you had about the world
Feeling at home
This is it: you are fully integrated and your host country is now a place you can happily call ‘home’. There aren’t many do’s to recommend to you anymore except to enjoy every piece of this phase, to build unique memories with your friends and to live the ‘vida loca’ as long as your journey goes.
Figuring out the best way to adjust to a new culture is essential to overcome a superficial approach to a new country and to eventually fully integrate a different culture into yours. Remember that a living abroad experience will change you forever – and believe me it’s for the best.