Moving Overseas? 3 Ways To Ease Culture Shock

Posted on: 15 June 2016

Moving overseas is exciting, but it also comes with its drawbacks. When you make an international move, you're not just leaving your house or your neighborhood, you're leaving most of what's familiar to you. It can be hard to adjust to your new surroundings, and this difficulty can come as a surprise if you were excited to make the move in the first place. That makes it even more difficult to handle. Take a look at some strategies that can help you minimize culture shock and settle into your new home more easily.

Learn the Language

If your first language is not the primary language in your new home, then it's time for you to start learning a new language. You should start practicing as soon as you know that you're going to be moving, if possible. If you can't communicate well with your new neighbors, coworkers, and local merchants, you're going to feel lonely and isolated in your new community. Even if you do speak the language in your new home country, there are probably local colloquialisms that you should put some effort into learning.

Listening to language learning CDs or digital tracks in your car while you drive or while you're doing chores like laundry or dishes can help you get the hang of a new language without taking up a lot of your time. If you're moving with your family, you can all help each other out. Designate an hour a day – say, dinnertime – to speak to each other in your new country's language. That way you'll get plenty of practice. Once you make the move, don't be afraid to test out your new language skills on the locals. Your accent may not be perfect, and you may not always know the right words, but most people will appreciate that you made the effort.

Reach Out to Other Expats

You can keep up with your friends and family in your old neighborhood through phone calls and the internet, but eventually you're going to want some friends that you can actually meet up with in person. There are many ways to make friends in a new country, but one of the quickest ways to meet people is to reach out to other expats. No matter where you're going in the world, there are almost certainly going to be others there that are just like you. Finding them can help you make some immediate connections in your new home. And you'll already have something in common – your expat status.

There are plenty of expat communities online that you can join. Find some and look for others living in the area that you're headed to. Not only is this a good way to make friends, it's a good way to get information about things like which local schools are best for your kids and which grocery stores have the best prices.

Pack Your Carry-On Carefully

One of the realities of moving overseas is that you may not see most of your household goods for a while. It's a common choice for overseas moving companies and freight forwarders to ship items by boat, and that takes time. Plus, once your items arrive, you'll have to wait for them to clear customs.

That's why it's important to make sure that you bring the things you'll need immediately in you carry-on bags or the luggage that you'll check on the plane. In addition to bringing the necessities, like clothes and prescription medications, make sure that you save some room for things that will make you feel at home. It can make a big difference to have framed pictures of family members or your child's favorite teddy bear with you as soon as you step into your new home.

An adjustment period is to be expected when making a major move, especially when you're moving to a whole new country. It's OK to feel frustrated or homesick at times. Soon enough, your new home will start to really feel like home.


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