How to Reduce Culture Shock When Moving Abroad
Even the most experienced travellers get culture shock.
Whether you’re moving across the world or to the country next door, being out of your comfort zone is the biggest trigger for nerves. Once the initial madness of planning and moving had slowly ebbed away, you’ll be left with the task of settling in and finding your new routine in a foreign place. The good news is, culture shock is extremely common, and once you feel more at home, you’re likely to get over it fairly quickly.
But what can you do to ease the transition?
Before you move
Get to know your destination prior to your arrival. Ideally by visiting your new hometown – or at least country. You’ll be able to figure out what you do and don’t like and what you’ll need to get used to in your new home. This provides you with some control when you first land, as you won’t be caught completely off guard and will have some familiarity with the place already.
Researching your new home is a great alternative for those who can’t visit it. However, it’s also recommended even if you have had the opportunity to check it out. Reading blogs, watching youtube and learning from those who have gone through the same as you will help with the knowledge you’re not alone.
Meet other expats and locals before you move. That way, you already have a network when you arrive. Knowing you have someone to meet for coffee or a glass of wine with will make a huge difference to the first few weeks when it can all seem overwhelming. The best way to discover others in your area is via Facebook groups and the MeetUp app.
Pack some home comforts to ensure you feel connected to where you used to live. Nobody knows the sentimental value in your belongings like you do. By using a self-packing moving company, you can prioritise what goes where and what to take with you, and you’ll be saving money! Having familiarity in your new home will make a huge difference, and with 30 years in the moving business plus an owner who has moved countless times internationally himself, UPakWeShip knows the value better than anyone.
After you’ve moved
Don’t compare your new home to your old one. This is a whole different adventure, so keep an open mind. Staying positive about the changes and the new culture will lessen the impact if you see the differences as a good thing.
Use your hobbies to meet other people through groups. By meeting people at groups in something you’re passionate about, you’re more likely to meet genuine friends who have things in common with you. You’ll feel more ingrained in the community rather than as the odd one out, and it’s a great way to meet locals. The other huge benefit to this is familiarity. If you took salsa classes at home, going to a new salsa group will show your brain that your life still has some continuity.
Make an effort to learn the language. This may sound obvious, but you’d be surprised (or maybe you wouldn’t) by how many people rely on English being the universal language. The truth is if you ever really want to become a part of the community you’ll need to have some willingness to learn the language. Even the basics will allow you to have more of a grasp of what’s going on around you and make you feel less alien. On top of this, attending a local language school will help you make friends.
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.