10 simple ways to improve cross culture understanding in a new country

The social adaption varies from person to person, some people adapt faster than others. Regardless, it is very natural to have some ‘opinions’ or biases against a new culture or a new place.

Once we move to a new country or a new culture, the adaption starts; we subconsciously start to get used to the new norms as time goes. And, in many cases, we don’t even realize that we are adjusting to the new culture; it happens automatically. It is a natural social change – adapting to the new circumstances over time.

However, the social adaption happens much faster if we make a conscious effort to interact with the local culture. To improve the cross cultural understanding and learning more about the local way of life, here are a few simple but effective things that we can do:

1. Adapt to the local language: Don’t isolate yourself from the local language and the local way of speaking – the slang, the style, …. the whole nine yards. The article ‘Self-help guide to lose your accent’ goes into the details on this subject.

2. Participate in the community functions: Be a part of the local community. The social interactions help with understanding the local customs, traditions, and appreciating the differences.

3. Volunteer at a local school or library: Being a volunteer at local school or library is not only a noble thing to do, but it help you equally. You learn a lot about the local lifestyle, the local education system and it opens many doors to the social activities.

4. Don’t be over conscious of being different: We are all different, one way or another. The world would be a boring place if we were all very similar. So don’t be self-conscious about being a minority in a new culture.

5. Improve communication skills: The best way to improve local interaction is by improving your communication skills. The article linked here is quite helpful in this area: How to improve your communication skills.

6. Understand and overcome the culture shock: When we go to a new place, we all go through this phase of culture shock – some more than others. You can take a look at this article on ‘How to overcome your culture shock abroad’ for more information on this topic.

7. Socialize outside your own culture: Again, avoid self isolation by limiting your social interactions within your own community. Go explore the other culture; there are always so many interesting and intriguing facts and things about the other culture waiting to be discovered.

8. Share your own culture and customs: To improve cross-cultural understanding, share the customs of your own culture with the local communities and with local circle of friends. This is the best way to bridge the gap between two cultures – learning about the local customers and sharing your own culture and norms.

9. Don’t be judgmental: Everyone has their own way of doing things, their own customs, their own rituals. Don’t be quick to judge a culture based on partial observation. We all do many things that look strange to people from other culture. The idea is to adapt, not to criticize. So, listen to your local friends, observe their cultural habits. This will help you in understanding their way of thinking and how they deal with different social situations.

10. Time is a great equalizer: it takes time to adapt to a new place, to learn a new way of life, to understand a new culture. Do not rush yourself to form an opinion about another cultures. Take some time to know the local society, make some friends and have some fun. With time, you will find yourself more and more at home.

A multi-cultural society is a way of life now-a-days. So enjoy the diversity and relish your cross-culture journey.

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