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Adjusting to Your New Environment When You Relocate

Although friends and family back home may believe that you are enjoying a long tropical holiday when they relocate to Singapore, you may experience periods of homesickness when you first relocate here. This usually happens whilst you are settling in. You may find it difficult to meet new people, to do without the usual support networks, and to adjust to the new culture and life.

Your children may also experience homesickness as they are away from their grandparents, extended family and friends, are starting at new schools and are adjusting to new routines and the new climate.

There are usually four phases during the adjustment phase that you may experience:

  1. Honeymoon: Everything is great and you are having a wonderful time.
  2. Shock: There are so many differences in this new country that you didn’t expect and don’t know how to deal with them.
  3. Negotiation: You learn to deal with the problems set before you and try to integrate them with your own beliefs.
  4. Acceptance: You are able to live well in the environment and the differences you are experiencing.

Not everyone passes through these phases and not everyone is in Singapore long enough to pass through all four.

When you relocate, you separate yourself from the people and circumstances you know and it is possible that you may feel a loss of some of your identity. This is referred to as a ‘culture shock’. The impact of this change can be disorienting and upsetting.

Symptoms of culture shock may include feeling very angry over minor inconveniences, extreme homesickness, withdrawal from people who are different from you, boredom, headaches, overeating or loss of appetite, a need for excessive sleep, upset stomach, depression, unexplained crying, marital or relationship stress, loss of ability to work or study effectively and sudden intense feeling of loyalty to your own culture.

When experiencing culture shock or adjustment difficulties, you may not have every symptom on the list. It is possible that only a few may apply to you.

You might need some help from a doctor or a counsellor, but prevention is better than cure.

Some techniques to ease the stress whilst you are settling in include regular exercise, meditation, yoga, adequate sleep, a healthy diet, minimizing alcohol consumption, keeping busy and becoming involved in the expatriate community. These techniques can help you manage stress whilst you adjust to your new environment and feel more settled in your new posting.

Get out and about and see how Singaporeans and other expats live here. Make local and expat friends who can help with answering your questions and assist you as you find your way around. Try to be open minded and familiarize yourself with the local customs and language.

Be patient! Many people new to Singapore will take some time to adjust and settle in and the majority realize that this is a wonderful, interesting, safe and clean environment in which to live.

Book for an appointment with AsiaMedic CHI ( Complete Healthcare International ) at their  Orchard Road clinic today!
Opening hours: Monday to Friday, 8.30am – 5:30pm; Saturdays, 8:30am to 12:30pm; Closed Sundays.
Complete Healthcare International, 350 Orchard Road, #10-01 Shaw House, Singapore 238868, Tel: (+65) 6776 2288, www.chi-health.com.sg

Dr Colin Koh graduated from the National University of Singapore in 1984. He has been a family doctor and healthcare administrator in Singapore, Abu Dhabi, Vietnam and Indonesia. Dr Koh set up a Wellness and Diagnostic Centre in Abu Dhabi and is member of the American Anti-Aging Academy of Medicine.

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