Avoid culture shock when moving abroad
New home, new job, new friends, new food, new customs, new language - all of this can be exciting, intimidating and often met with some degree of culture shock.
Understanding what you are in for and preparing properly for the adventure ahead can ease the transition into life as an expat. While most people who choose an international assignment are thrilled with the idea of experiencing such a different way of life - breathing in the rich histories, trying local flavors and meeting new people - almost everyone who ventures abroad will eventually experience some form of culture shock.
The term culture shock is used to describe the anxiety produced when a person moves to a new environment. It can be compared to homesickness. To ease your transition, we suggest you try out the following tips and advice.
- Make friends - One of the worst and most difficult aspects of moving to a new country is leaving your friends and family behind. You will likely encounter other expats along your way and they can help ease the transition, make a point to befriend locals as well. To really experience your new adventure, it’s important to embrace new cultures often only found among the locals. Helpful sites: http://www.internations.org/, http://www.expat-blog.com/
- Keep an open mind - Moving abroad, especially to a country where the differences in language and culture are vast, may cause you to shut down. Approach new situations with an open mind, and try to understand cultural differences. While you shouldn’t be late to a dinner party if you moved to Germany or Switzerland, it’s widely common to be 30 minutes late if you in the Mediterranean, European countries or Latin America.
- Learn the language - There is nothing worse than trying to communicate when no one can understand each other. Rather than feel isolated by a language you don’t speak, invest in learning what you can. Whether it’s through a computer program, book, class or one-on-one lessons, learning the language can give you independence and make your experience more enjoyable.
- Research customs - In India, nodding your head horizontally indicates “yes,” while in the rest of the world it means “no.” When drinking alcoholic beverages in Japan, it is customary to serve each other, rather than pouring your own beverage.
- Take advantage of the perks - Is it easier to travel to other countries? Is it normal to have help with your house, a cook or maid? Do you get more vacation time and an increased salary? Whatever the perk, if there is one, take advantage of it. A great aspect of living abroad is truly experiencing life as a local, especially those perks!
Visit the Suddath Relocation Zone for more in-depth information and help planning for your upcoming move.