Relocating to the United States can be, for many, a dream come true. It’s full of different cultures, foods, sights, sounds, and new experiences! All of which offer opportunities for Expats to learn new life lessons and take on new challenges.
Adapting to your new surroundings can be difficult and lead to culture shock. What is culture shock? According to internations.org, culture shock is “a phenomenon that all types of expatriates experience, no matter if they work abroad for the first time or if they are veterans in the field of Expat assignments. Often, it is the deeper cultural differences, customs and interpersonal interaction that trigger this phenomenon and turn cultural transition into a struggle.” In other words, culture shock is being away from your past everyday norms and experiencing the new lifestyles of terrains. But remember, it takes some time to learn and understand a new culture, and sometimes, even longer to feel a sense of belonging.
Culture shock is very common amongst Expats and normally consists of a few different phases:
Stage 1: Honeymoon
The honeymoon stage usually takes place during the first month, and it is during this time that everything is new and exciting.
Stage 2: Frustration
The frustration stage occurs when Expats start to miss their home country and start to feel frustrated adjusting to the new way of living.
Stage 3: Adjustment
After the frustration stage, the adjustment stage comes into play. Adjustment is when the Expats morale starts to rise, and they’re starting to accept their new lifestyle and become accustomed to their everyday life.
Stage 4: Acceptance
The final stage is the acceptance stage. This stage is the last experience when the Expat has gained the skills they need to realize that relocating to the United States is no longer a struggle, but now their new way of life.
Image Source: blogs.millersville.edu
Culture Shock is very common and not something to fear! It can be challenging at first, but relocating is a great experience overall. Here are a few tips to help you avoid culture shock:
Avoid all of the different stereotypes you hear. In the United States, you will meet people from all different countries, religions, and ethnicities. There isn’t any particular “right way” of living in the United States. Believing that you have to be the “typical American” will just slow down your adjustment period. That’s what makes the United States so great. Just be who you are and you will fit in just fine.
Come Prepared! Before relocating, make a list of everything you need to help with your move to the United States. Download our free Expat Moving Checklist to guide you through the process. Research the area you are moving to ahead of time. This will help you learn where the nearest grocery store, bank, and pharmacy are ahead of time. If you have children, obtain any transfer certificates necessary for their new school before leaving your home country. This will make the transfer process smooth and easy while finding a new school.
Keep an Open Mind. When relocating to the United States there are many different attitudes and ways to approach life. There is more than one way of doing the “right thing.” Embrace new cultures without comparing them to yours. Learn from them all and stay positive!
Learn the Language. Learning English will help with communication skills in the United States and give you an opportunity to develop more relationships with the people around you. Downloading a language application or purchasing a language book will assist you in learning the English language. Applications are easily available and you can download them on your smartphone or tablet. Duolingo is a free and easy to use app that upholds a reputation for a quick and efficient way of learning a new language. Duolingo offers personalized learning, grading, rewards and quick language refining. Take advantage of all the resources you have around you.
Get involved. Step out of your comfort zone and get involved with different activities. There are many different activities you can take part in that will help you gain new friends. For example, join a gym class, attend a festival or even volunteer. If you have children, getting them involved will help the process for them as well. Sign them up for a town sports team, bring them to an art class, or even involve them in your local library events. Explore your new surroundings!
Relocating can be stressful, but it is a great experience. Take advantage of this opportunity to experience a new country. Keep your mind open while using these helpful tips and you will be on your way to avoiding culture shock.
Related: Download your free Expat guides and resources
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