Tips for Dealing with Culture Shock

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Dealing with Culture Shock

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After an international move, it's common to feel out of place, confused, lonely, and even depressed. The drastically different culture often causes what is known as "culture shock"--or difficulty adjusting to new and unfamiliar surroundings after moving to a new country.

Symptoms of culture shock

How do you know if you are experiencing culture shock? The following are common symptoms and signs that you may be suffering from this phenomenon:
  • Irritability
  • Physical pain
  • Loneliness
  • Fatigue
If you find yourself afflicted with these or any other unpleasant symptoms after your international move, there are ways to ease your transition and better adjust to your new, foreign environment. Remember, assimilation takes time, and your new country is not going to feel familiar over night. However, the following tips will make it easier to combat culture shock so you can start feeling at home overseas.

Research your new country before your move

The more you know about your new home, the less alien it will feel once you arrive. It's a good idea to learn all about the culture and social norms, and develop a working knowledge of the language before you move. While an advance visit may not be financially feasible or convenient, that will also help you familiarize yourself with the country. If not, looking up places of interest and studying maps of your new region will help you avoid getting lost and increase your feelings of belonging after your move.

Avoid drawing comparisons

Focusing on all the ways your new home is different than your native country will only exacerbate your feelings of isolation. Instead, try reminding yourself of all the things you love about your new country, and spend time doing things and visiting places that you enjoy. New experiences are exciting and enriching--while your new country may not feel like home just yet, it's sure to feel like an adventure.

Be social

While you may be tempted to spend most of your time at expat hangouts, it's a good idea to spend time socialising with locals to adjust to the culture in your new country. While it may be intimidating to visit bars and other hangouts that natives frequent, you should find that most of them are welcoming, helpful, and kind. Ask locals for directions, restaurant recommendations, or any other general questions about the area to practice your language skills and possibly make new friends.

Keep in touch with friends

While learning to love your new home is an important part of dealing with culture shock, keeping contact with loved ones back home can be a helpful way to ease into your new life. When you're feeling homesick and lonely, a phone call or video chat with your best friend or mom is sure to lift your spirits. Make a point to schedule time to talk to friends and family, or just simply reach out when you're feeling particularly low.

Get professional help

If you find yourself unable to deal with the drastic change and feelings of depression, anxiety, or hopelessness are severely interfering with your daily life, you may need to seek professional help. Contact a health care provider for a referral to a therapist to discuss your emotions and gain some professional perspective on how to effectively battle your culture shock in a healthy way.

Photo by: Stockphotos (Freedigitalphotos.net)

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on March 7, 2016

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