Expat culture shock hits everyone sooner or later. And it comes in different shades, shapes, and levels. But luckily there are some good was to cope.
Even if you think that you are a hard case. Psychology offers some hope for you too.
And at the end of the day, your hard case of might lead to the best case scenario.
Well, according to research done by the Canadian International Development Agency, the employees who had the hardest time during their acculturation process, later appear more satisfied and more productive than their expat colleagues who had an easier time.
Why? Because they undergo a sort of “post-traumatic growth” and bounced back from this trauma. But there is a condition: the individual must view the experience of adjusting to a foreign culture as something that is strengthening, and something that will help her learn about herself and the world. And this is very difficult.
So how should you manage your expat culture shock?
Below is a list of 9 tips recommended by cultural psychologists:
1. Learn about culture shock
Find out as much as you can about undergoing culture shock. Remember, it applies to everyone, not just you. People overcome it beautifully. You can do it too.
When you end up in your new country, find out as much as you can about its culture. Read the national news and take a look around. Do not confine yourself to your house. Go out. Force yourself to do so, even if you endup somewhere in the USA, where there is nowhere to walk. Go to a mall. Talk to people. If you do not know anyone, talk to a barista or a shopkeeper.
3. Learn the language
Talk, immerse yourself. Find a class or go to your local community college - most community colleges offer free classes.
4. Help your psyche
Create your own private support group for emotional backup. It can be over Skype.
5. Get to know people
Go to meetup.com and see what is going on in your neighborhood. Americans move so often that there are always newcomers in need of making new friends. They will understand where you are coming from.
6. Take baby steps
Set one goal for yourself each day and reach it. It may be something very small like talking to a secretary or a neighbor. Reward yourself.
7. Be optimistic
Try to view the world positively. Remember, optimists find it easier to deal with such situations, are more successful, and healthier. There is scientific research to prove this. Join the optimistic tribe. Just do it.
8. Take care of your health
Believe me, this one is important. Scientific research shows that culture shock may have bad affects on mental health — you may fall ill, get insomnia, have stomach pain, or back pain. So take care of yourself. Eat well and exercise every day. Don't feed yourself a diet of hamburgers and muffins every day. Go explore - there's much more out there!
What are your tips?