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How to Minimize Culture Shock When Relocating Internationally

Posted by Melissa Morr on May 13, 2016 2:37:47 PM

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Culture shock is more than just feeling homesick for your old home and your old country. It's also the feeling of disorientation that comes from suddenly needing to find your way in an unfamiliar cultural environment. At times, you may wish that you had never moved, you may feel angry at your new environment for not being what you're used to, or you may feel disappointed in yourself for not finding a way to fit in more quickly. Following are some things that you can do to minimize the stress and discomfort of culture shock in your new home.

Make Connections

Loneliness will exacerbate feelings of disconnection and disorientation in your new environment. It's important to work to make connections with the people around you so that you don't feel alone and lost. If your only social interaction is phone calls and emails to people back home, it will be a lot longer before your new country feels like home.

One thing that you should definitely do is make the effort to connect with other expats living in your area. You can find expat groups online that can help you make local connections. Other expats will understand the things that you're going through, and you'll be able to help each other through the difficult times.

On the other hand, it's also important to reach out to natives of your new country. You should make an effort to meet the neighbors, make friends with your coworkers, and interact with others in the community. Finding common ground and friendship with native residents will help inspire you to acclimate and adapt.

Learn the Language

If you've moved to a country where your first language is not the primary language, it's important to make every effort to learn the local language. Communication is key when it comes to making friends and fitting in. An inability to communicate with those around you can be incredibly isolating and frustrating. It's also pretty boring if you have no one to talk with.

You won't become fluent immediately, of course, but one of the best ways to learn a language is to live in a place where that language is spoken. As long as you're willing to try, you're sure to pick up enough to fit in, even if your accent isn't perfect. In most cases, people will be happy to help you out when you get stuck for a word as long as you're making the effort.

Practice Appreciation

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Find the beauty in your new surroundings.

When you're missing your home country, it's easy to start feeling as if everything was better there. But the truth is that every culture has positives and negatives, and your new country definitely has some aspects of its culture that are as good or better than what you're used to at home. Go out and find them! When you discover what parts of living in your new country you enjoy the most, you'll start to feel much more at home there.

In order to find the things that you love about your adopted home, you'll need to keep an open mind and step out of your comfort zone. Be willing to try new things and have new experiences, and approach the unfamiliar as an adventure rather than an inconvenience. In time, you'll discover the best parts of living in your new country.

It's okay to have days when you feel unsure about your decision to move or sad about what you're missing back home. Go easy on yourself and give yourself plenty of time and space to adjust. For more strategies on adjusting to an international move, follow us on Facebook.

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Topics: International Relocation, Freight forwarding, Expat Moving Services, International Moving Tips

Melissa Morr

Written by Melissa Morr

Melissa Morr is the manager of corporate relocation and private relocation at Accelerated International Forwarders. She leads the team of international coordinators and is involved in all international moving services for both corporate and private relocation. She has worked within the industry for 31 year, including employment at North American International, Allied Special Products, Prudential Relocation, and Brookfield Global Relocation Services.

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