You took the leap and are starting a new life in another country. Exciting times coming ahead! And it doesn’t matter if you are a newbie or an expert in moving countries, you will probably still go through the process known as: “Cultural Shock”.
This phenomenon experienced by travelers and by those who are living away from home, is the process of experiencing the unfamiliar surroundings and even though you might feel energized by it, you might also get nervous about the new foods, social norms and the culture you are living with.
As an Xpat, you have been there and you will be there. It is the moment when you eat something new that you love but also the part about not knowing how to greet someone. (kiss, hug, fist bump?) Cultural shock is part of arriving and getting settled in your new environment. And since this is an imminent situation, here are the stages and some ideas in how to sail through this process and even enjoy it!
Honeymoon! The river, the moon, the sunlight… Everything is just perfect. Your IG is full of all the new things you are living and loving! You are just #livingyourbestlife and are happy that you are aboard. Tip here: Just enjoy it! Let it go and be!
The Frustration Stage. Either your bed is getting harder or you cannot sleep the same as in your old bed back home. But at this moment, the quirks of your new place are not so shiny. The coffee place starts getting somehow boring, you miss your friends and someone to just chill and watch netflix with. You are getting tired of not understanding your surroundings or not getting the proper order you asked for! Everything feels like running a marathon. Tip: Go to a place that makes you feel like home. Maybe a restaurant with the food from your country (even if they don´t do it just like in your town) get some friends with your same nationality and find your little country in your new town. This will give you some sense of ground. Try to focus on those things that make you feel good (yes, comfort food here is a good idea) This phase is more about recovering your strength and making your “nest”
Adjustment Stage. For some it might take a while, for others just a couple of weeks. This is the moment when you start feeling more comfortable with the culture, the food and the language. It gets easier and you have established somewhat of a lifestyle that you enjoy. Tip: If you have the chance, make some small trips around your new country and make a list of things you would like to do for the next 6 months (Covid may permit it) in order to create some buzz for the months coming.
Acceptance. Oh well… you are here and you are somehow out of the emotional rollercoaster. YOU DID IT! Congratulations! At this point you made a deal with the new culture and you are embracing it as part of your daily world. You might still hate somethings but you are again open to conquering your new home without outside of the honeymoon phase. Tip: It will probably happen that once or twice you will go through all or some of the phases again. This is normal and the only thing we can say is be patient with you and your new surroundings. Missing your own culture is also part of being an Xpat.