Overcoming cultural shock: How to adapt in a new country
Posted on July 28, 2023
Why settle in a new country?
- Learning to live by yourself
- Advance career prospects
- Exposure to a new culture
- Improve communication skills
- Opportunity to grow networks
- Develop a global outlook
Overcoming cultural shock: How to adapt in a new country
Culture shock is a feeling of strangeness you experience when in a country that has different customs and backgrounds than your homeland.
In fact, culture shocks can occur from one culture to another within the same country. However, when you are abroad, communicating with someone familiar is tough.
When you enter a foreign land to work, you are exposed to new customs, food, values, and behaviors of people who may seem alien to you. This process of being aware of these transformations is known as culture shock. It may not mean shock literally, but also the sense of feeling lost when you encounter new lifestyles, approaches, and norms followed by people in the country you have entered to stay there for a considerable amount of time.
After realizing it, you need mechanisms to cope with it. Here are some of the tips to overcome culture shocks.
Get familiar with your new home
Get to read the local dailies, news reports, or any other literature that offers insights into your new home. Befriend locals at either your workplace or close to the place you live.
Know the dos and don’ts of the new country, such as how you can endear yourself to people and also what offends people there – so that you avoid doing those things.
Seek your local contact’s advice
When you work abroad, a person needs to be your point of contact there. Do not feel ashamed to seek their advice. All foreign nationals in a new country have to do it at some point in time. Get to know the unique customs of that country.
Learn new things during your stint
Before you head to the new country, ensure that you learn about its culture.
Keep a dairy
During your initial days of stay there, make a note of things that you liked and were not comfortable with there.
Take up a new pastime
As you get ready to get accustomed to the local culture, it would be better if you take up an activity that diverts your mind. If possible, indulge in activities that you were not used to in your home country.
Remember that going abroad and settling there is easier said than done. Even the best of people find it tough initially.
Tell people how you are feeling
Connect with other foreign nationals living in your home and share your experiences with them. Their experiences will also teach you a thing or two, as you both could have had similar experiences.
Change your routine
Do not do things the same way you would do in your home country. Observe how people go about their activities here and implement some of them. Take time to appreciate the local cuisine and do not compare it with your favorite dishes at home. It can offend them.
Put yourself in their shoes
Shed the worldview you held before and try to empathize with their way of life. Understand why they do what they do.
Participate in the local activities
Take part in some of the local activities in which you feel comfortable. This will make them appreciate how much you are trying to get used to their way of doing things. If possible, go out of your way to participate in activities they take pride in, even if you feel odd doing it. This will help you make friends and will enable you to see things the way they do.
Put in efforts to learn the local language
If you want to become accustomed to a culture abroad, the first thing you need to do is to try and learn their tongue, no matter how difficult it may seem initially. Learning the local language is the best path to learning about them. You will then be able to understand why they perceive things the way they do.
Improve your networking skills
While you are abroad, you will make new connections. These connections will, in turn, let you reach out to many people who would be in the same line of work as you, benefiting you in the long run.
In the present world, professional connections are essential when you switch jobs or look to take up professions that are entirely unconnected with your previous line of work. Besides, on social media, you get to interact with people in person while working abroad.
Follow these ground rules mandatorily in any new country you visit. If you follow some of the suggestions above, you can easily adjust to new countries, which will help you make a few lifelong friends. It will, in turn, be a process of developing a global outlook that will make you stand out in a crowd. People with global viewpoints thrive wherever they go and become role models.
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