10 tips on how to overcome the overseas culture shock
The overseas culture shock is common for anyone traveling or migrating abroad. Some of us are quick to adapt, willing to accept the change. Others hate it and don’t like customs or traditions of living a life different that what they are used to growing up.
The fact is that it is not a matter of one or two days; if you plan to live abroad, you should be willing to adapt to what comes with it – the new culture, a different society and an entirely different everyday life.
Adaptation is not a quick or overnight thing; getting used to the new place can take a long time. However, here are 10 tips on how to overcome or minimize the culture shock abroad:
1. Accept the change: Change is part of life; it is a part of the journey. Don’t resist something just because it is different. Give it a try. Millions and millions before you have gone through the same experience abroad. You may actually like the ‘new you’ if you try.
2. Learn the local language: This step is very important, actually the most important. If you really want to adapt to the new place, learn the local language, the local way of communicating. This includes getting used to the new accent and losing the old accent; the local way of pronunciation and the local slang – the whole nine yards. And, don’t forget to learn the art of small talk in a new society.
3. Venture out and try first hand: Don’t isolate yourself from the local culture. Expose yourself to the local common places where social life breathes. The shopping mall, the hair salon, the barber shop, the community center, the local parks….. – go be a part of the day-to-day outdoor life. The best way to adapt is by trying it firsthand.
4. Use family and friends’ support: Use your local circle of friends and family as your support system. Share your concerns and hesitations. You will be surprised, people are always helpful; all you have to do is ask for help.
5. Expand your social circle: Now that you have your close family and friends supporting you, expand your social circle. More local interaction you have, more at home you will feel.
6. Notice the subtle differences: Pay attention to the small changes, the subtle differences abroad. How the greetings are slightly different, how people mind their own business :). If you notice the small details and differences, it becomes easier to adapt.
7. Find a local hobby: This is another way of trying to adapt to the local life style. Find a hobby that helps you interact with local culture. Go fishing, jogging…., join a book club…Make friends with people from other cultures. This can greatly help in local adaptation.
8. Watch some TV: Yes! the best of both world – entertainment and learning. You can learn a lot about local way of life by watching local TV. Watch some local dramas, the local news, the local talk shows…This will not only help with the info about the new culture and customs, but it also helps with the native language and the new slang. Pay attention and listen to the spoken language; watch, listen and learn.
9. Find a mentor: You can find a mentor to work with, who can show you around and help interact with local groups and cultures. This could be a local friend or someone you look up to. This can work really well at the new work place as well.
10. Time is a great healer: If I only get a dime every time I say this, I will be millionaire by now. 🙂 It takes time to adapt to new surroundings, a new culture and a new life style. As time goes by, you will feel more and more at home. So, give it some time, and make a conscious effort to adapt by trying the above tips.
Also, you may want to take a look at the article titled ‘Key hurdles to overseas adaptation and adjustment!’ for more information and insight on overseas adaptation.
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