Moving to another country is a unique life experience that everyone should live at least once in their life. However, for a lot of people, it is a real challenge and it can be really scary. Taking all of your stuff, saying goodbye to everyone you have ever known, and taking the big step of moving to another completely different place is not an easy decision, but a brave one.
What people don´t really know about moving aboard is something called cultural shock. Normally, we all grow up in a certain place, with habits and customs that are specific for that culture. But what we need to understand is that everyone has their own culture, and what is normal for us could be completely odd to others. So, if you are going to enter in this experience, maybe for work or maybe because you are going to be an exchange student, these are some basic things you need to know about it.
First of all, you need to understand what culture shock is. It is a normal and natural reaction to a new and unfamiliar culture. It can cause feelings of disorientation, anxiety, frustration, and even depression. It can happen to anyone, regardless of their age, gender, or background. But it is okay; this feeling doesn´t last forever and it may never happen. Knowing what culture shock is and being aware of the signs can help you better cope with it.
When you are new to a country you have never been to before, a crucial step in this journey is to learn about the culture you are about to step in. You need to understand that you are the one entering in this country; therefore, you are the one who needs to adjust. This doesn´t mean that you need to change everything that you do in your daily life; it just means that you need to learn what people there consider culturally appropriate and what they don´t. Read books, watch documentaries, or talk to people who have lived or visited the country. This will help you better understand the culture, its customs, values, and traditions. It will also help you prepare for the differences you may encounter, such as language, food, and social norms.
Be open-minded. Having an open mind and being willing to embrace new experiences and perspectives is essential. You may encounter things that are different from what you are used to, but that does not mean they are wrong. Embrace the differences and try to learn from them. This will not only help you better adapt to the new culture but also enrich your experience. A personal advice in addition: say yes to everything, meaning that maybe stepping out of your comfort zone will make you do things that you have never thought of doing.
Language is a significant factor in culture shock. Not being able to communicate effectively can lead to frustration and anxiety. However, a good thing is that living in a country that has a different language than yours is the best possible way of learning a new language. With a little bit of time, you are going to speak it better than if you spend years learning it in school or a language academy. It is going to be hard at first, but getting used to heart it all the time it is going to make it easier.
Another key to going through this process is to seek for support. Moving to another country can be a lonely experience, especially if you do not know anyone in the new place. It is important to have support from colleagues or people whom you are going to meet there. Joining local groups or clubs can also be an excellent way to meet new people and make new friends.
Cultural shock is a process, and it takes time and patience. You may not realize that you are feeling it until a few months into moving in. It is going to feel weird seeing things that you are not normally used to see back home, but it is amazing to experience it and learn from it. You are going to grow as a person, mature and do things that are out of your comfort zone. Don´t be scared and try to live it to the fullest.