Culture Shock Stages: How To Handle Them When Moving Abroad
Relocating overseas can be a thrilling experience – you will find yourself exploring unfamiliar territories, trying different things and meeting new people. While some are able to adapt well, others can take more time to acquaint themselves with the new environment abroad.
It is likely for expats to experience some degree of a culture shock when they arrive and try to settle down. Feelings of loneliness, anxiety, homesickness are common, and it can even bring about physical symptoms like insomnia and colds. There are four different stages to this process – honeymoon, negotiation, adjustment and adaptation, that the average person goes through:
- Honeymoon stage – This is the euphoric phase that can last several weeks or months where you’re fascinated by all the exciting and different aspects of your new life.
- Negotiation stage – The excitement gradually disappears as you continually face difficulties that may lead you to experience sadness, discontent, and frustration.
- Adjustment stage – Around 6 to 12 months later, life starts to get better and routine sets in. Even with difficulties along the way, you can handle them more rationally and have a better understanding of the local culture.
- Adaptation stage – You feel better integrated and are used to your new daily routine and friends, gaining a strong sense of belonging and the feeling of at home in your new country.
How you can deal with culture shock
Culture shock is an intrinsic part of living abroad, so it’s best to prepare yourself with the inevitability of it and take steps to banish those blues. Here are some ways you can deal with culture shock head-on.
1. Get out and explore
When you move abroad, you have to deal with various things that are unfamiliar to you – be it cultural, linguistic or culinary. One of the best ways to help you feel more settled is to get to know the local environment. You can do this even before you move, by watching documentaries or movies, reading books, and joining groups on social media that are centred on your destination. For instance, if you’re planning for international relocation to Australia, it’s also a good idea to seek out restaurants that serve the local cuisine.
After you’ve gotten your bearings in the new country, pluck up the courage to explore the surrounding area. Browse the local shops, go to different cafes and walk around your neighbourhood – the point is to step outside your comfort zone.
Day by day, your new environment will become less foreign to you. If you aren’t shy to strike up conversations with people, there may be a chance for you to learn of local clubs and events to get involved in!
2. Find a community
Socialising is important when overcoming culture shock. Thanks to the Internet, now you can connect with other expats and search for local groups with people in a similar situation to yourself. Not only will they know exactly how you’re feeling, but they can also provide advice and tips to help ease yourself into your host culture and adopted home.
Offline, you can introduce yourself to your neighbours once you’ve moved in. Being on friendly terms with them can bring some comfort and a sense of security; if you ever need a helping hand, you won’t need to stray too far to find it.
3. Create a routine
Once you’ve moved, your old routine will go out the window, leaving you to feel confused and overwhelmed in a new place. Set a clear daily routine in your home or find places you like that you can often go to establish a sense of familiarity.
Routines help to foster predictability and a sense of security, which counter some of the symptoms of culture shock. By getting into some kind of rhythm back in your new expat life, your existence in a new city can feel less chaotic and disordered.
4. Set a project for yourself
When trying to adapt to culture shock, patience is a virtue – it can take a while for things to become normal. In the meantime, find yourself a project to keep yourself busy with something new and exciting.
Whether it’s learning how to prepare a local dish, or memorising useful phrases in the local language, working on an activity will give you a sense of achievement. It could go a long way in alleviating your culture shock, and you get to reward yourself for your efforts once you’ve accomplished your goals!
Culture shock is an essential part of the experience of living overseas. Despite the anxiety and discomfort it can bring, it can also change your perspective on your habits, culture and way of life for the better. And before you know it, you will be well on your way to thriving in your new home abroad!
As one of the best international moving companies in Singapore, we have the expertise and knowledge to take care of your relocation needs. Let our team at Moovaz make your expat move a little easier so you can settle down in your new home stress-free!