Moving to a new country has many adjustments, some more than others. Whether it be language, the way people socially interact, or just everything, new culture means new. This “newness” can be quite “shocking” to adjust to, hence the term “culture shock”.
So how do you adjust?
Well, it takes time, but if you really want to adjust and everything become natural, then check out these tips I have compiled together from my own personal experiences.
1. Do Not Compare: One of the biggest mistakes I see expats make is they are always comparing the new country to their homeland. Their mind is constantly saying, “We don’t do it like this in__________!” I have made this mistake, and still at times have to remind myself not to compare. You have to let the comparisons go, and embrace the new country as it’s own.
2. Try New Things: Try the food, try the local transportation, check out the common hang out places, try the clothes, try EVERYTHING!
3. Forget Stereotypes, Ask Questions: It is not wise to use stereotypes as a lens to view the functioning of people of the new country. In fact, it is best to NOT take those for rock solid facts, until you see it done…more than once. Better yet, ask questions! Ask lots of questions! There’s nothing offensive in asking native people questions about their country and culture.
4. Find Your Getaway Spots: Most places will have a “spot” where you can go and feel at “home”. It may be a restaurant, a mall, or just some random place that reminds you of home. Whatever it is, find it and go there when you need a taste of home, just be careful it’s not everyday or the only place you go.
5. Make Friends With the Natives: One of the most import things is to make friends with the native people. Too often, expats lean towards hanging out only with expats because that’s where they are comfortable. Doing that, you will never completely adjust to a new culture. One of the best ways to learn things is to experience it in relationships.
6. Learn the language: This is one thing I wish I had invested more in when I first came to India. I am honestly still working on it! This is key and important for interaction anywhere. People anywhere will always be faithful to speak in their native tongue, so not knowing the language will make you the odd man out. Learn.The.Language.