How to Cope with Culture Shock When Moving Internationally
Moving internationally can be thrilling and challenging simultaneously, especially if you’re going to live in a completely different culture than yours. It’s intimidating yet exciting all at once. Fortunately, the following guide shows you how to cope with culture shock when moving internationally and integrating into the environment. By all means, it doesn’t mean you must ultimately behave, talk, and move the way the citizens of your new place of residence do. You can keep your authenticity while being a part of the community when you know how to balance these two.
Culture shock is a normal experience when moving internationally
First of all, accept that it’s completely normal to feel like you landed on another planet. Culture shock is a real deal, affecting even the most adventurous, open-minded people. If you’re keen on getting to know other cultures when traveling, know that integrating into one is an entirely different scenario. That means you’re not just scratching the surface but diving into the daily life typical for the country you’re moving to.
No one is spared from the process of overcoming culture shock in an unfamiliar setting. And the process consists of the following:
- Adjusting to an unfamiliar setting
- Taking time to know people and their character
- Learning about customs through experience
- Staying true to your culture while embracing the new one
Best ways to cope with culture shock when moving internationally
There are some tried and true ways to combat culture shock. The process of adjustment actually begins even before you relocate to the new country. The steps to take are:
- Researching the new community and environment
- Getting professional moving help
- Allowing yourself the time to recharge after the relocation
- Giving yourself time to adjust
- Learning the language
- Learning about the customs and rules
Research about the community while preparing for an international move
Let’s be honest – moving and settling into a new community is stressful to a certain extent. However, you can make the entire process run smoothly. First, browse top rated moving companies and see which of them have the best reviews for service quality and overall customer experience.
Another thing that can ease moving anxiety is researching your new city when you take a break from packing:
- Are you an outdoor enthusiast? Check how far are the hiking trails, where it’s possible to kayak, camp, etc.
- Look for coffee shops and dining spots that locals highly recommend.
- Find out about the nearest gyms if you wish to start working out or continue with your regimen.
- Learn about galleries, museums, festivals, and other cultural events and when they take place.
When you can imagine your new life at a new pace of residence, you won’t lack the motivation to have all moving tasks completed on time. You can also take a look at vlogs, or social media groups where ex-pats suggest places, give advice, and thus make life in that particular place a lot simpler for newbies. Moreover, learning about your new home is a great mental preparation since you’ll know what to expect, to some extent.
Rely on professionals for moving help
You must hire professional international movers to help you relocate. This is not an easy endeavor, and you will need all the help and guidance you can get. There will be so many aspects of the relocation to deal with that it will be incredibly challenging for you to handle it all yourself.
Professional movers have done this many times. They know what they have to do, how to do it, and what they need to do. Besides, you don’t need any additional stress. So, whenever you can delegate, please do.
Should you rely on moving brokers?
There are two effective ways to find an ideal moving company for you:
- Online search
- Specialized moving brokers
The good thing about working with moving brokers is that you don’t have to worry about choosing the company since someone else can do it for you. The most popular are online databases that offer top-level international movers. However, keep in mind that international move is a complex endeavor. You’ll still have to do your research in order to find capable movers for your relocation.
Don’t forget to secure a spacious storage unit
An international moving project is considered complete only when you have proper storage secured. You’ll need a safe and pest-free place where your precious valuables will be safe and sound. A quality storage unit makes the stress go away, which is why it’s worth spending time searching for the right one. You may opt for independent storage providers or full-service moving companies. The latter option is a lot more convenient and a lot more affordable.
Take time to rest after the relocation
International relocation is a long and tiring process. Don’t feel pressured to go and research the city as soon as you arrive. Also, don’t try to unpack everything in one day. You’ll need to regain your energy first and find the time to reset, especially if you’re in a completely different time zone. There will be plenty of time and opportunities to explore and curate your daily life there.
Unpack essential furniture and belongings. Notify your closest ones that you arrived, turn airplane mode on, then get some good sleep. Let the first day be reserved for rest and comfort food. Once you get back on your feet, you’ll be more willing to unpack all those boxes:
- Start with kitchen and bathroom inventory.
- Proceed to unpack your bedroom and home office.
- Leave the living room, basement, home gym, or any special room for last.
Give yourself time to adjust
What most ex-pats fear is that they’ll fail to adapt to the lifestyle in the new country. As a result, they become anxious and overly self-conscious. If you feel this way, try to take a few steps back. Remember that, for some, it takes more time to integrate than for others. For example, it’s normal to feel like you’re not there yet, even after three months of work and life in a new country and culture. Also, it doesn’t mean you failed at becoming a full-fledged citizen.
If you continue to feel uneasy and disoriented in a new setting, maybe you should consider the best online anxiety treatment, if that’s more convenient for you. Nowadays, it’s easy to look for a therapist that speaks your own language, is culturally aware, and capable of giving you the guidance you need.
Find international gathering events
International language evenings, pub gatherings, and other similar events can be a good start for your social life. There you can meet ex-pats who’ve been living in that state for quite some time. They can give you helpful tips, recommend places worth seeing, and more. Moreover, you might meet some people that you are comfortable hanging out with and thus make new friends.
International gatherings are excellent for connecting with other ex-pats or with someone from your culture. However, make sure to step away from international communities and try to connect with the locals.
Learn the language to cope with culture shock when moving internationally
Moving to another country is a perfect opportunity to improve your language skills. Furthermore, overcoming language barriers is a fun way to learn about the new you live in. If you have time, learn some basic expressions before you officially move. Once you settle into your new home, look for international language courses. No matter where you go, the locals love to hear that foreigners take an interest in their language, history, and way of life. Moreover, you’ll be living there for a certain period of time, and the language knowledge certainly comes in handy.
Try your best to advance to a higher language level. If you plan to stay there for longer than a year, then why not become proficient in the language? It brings you closer to the community and also looks good on your CV. Not to mention a plethora of job opportunities you get as an advanced speaker.
Learn the rules of the new country
The sooner you learn the rules of the country you’re moving to, the better. That way, you’ll become more aware of what’s acceptable and what’s prohibited. For instance, smoking indoors isn’t allowed in many countries. Furthermore, you can expect complaints from the neighbors if you turn on the washing machine late at night. All these little things will help you understand the rules of life in the country, even unwritten ones.
Respect the customs in your new country. After all, you’re there to adapt to it, and not the other way around. So, learn as much as possible about them, speak with the locals, and show a genuine interest. It’ll be easier to handle culture shocks as time goes by.
Tips for handling homesickness
Most ex-pats feel homesick until they get used to the new country. However, homesickness might last longer for some, which is nothing to be worried about. On the other hand, it’s not something that should stop you from having the best time in a new place of residence:
- Make getting to know your new neighborhoods a daily task. Have coffee at different places, take a walk in a different park, etc.
- Be honest with your therapist whenever you feel homesick.
- If you feel intimidated by the locals, just remember you’re yet to get to know them.
- Observe people rushing to work, meeting friends, and going about their day while you’re sipping on your favorite beverage.
- Take a walk through the city and find what you like about it. When you intentionally search for the pros of the place you live, homesickness doesn’t feel as overwhelming.
Online therapy can help you cope with culture shock in a foreign country
Due to language barriers, ex-pats don’t always have access to mental help resources. Thankfully, online therapy is on the rise, and there are so many great online companies to choose from. Some of them offer arguably the best online therapy for depression, anxiety, BPD, etc. All you need is a good internet connection and the comfort of your home to be able to attend a session. Online therapy when away from home comes in handy whenever you need to speak with a professional in your own language.
Is online therapy as effective as one-on-one therapy when dealing with culture shock when moving internationally?
There have been debates about whether online therapy is as good as traditional one. The opinions are divided. Some agree that in-person session has more effect. Others emphasize the convenience online therapy provides and claim it’s equally effective as in-person therapy. However, it all comes down to personal preferences.
On the other hand, the benefits of online therapy have been widely recognized. The mental help industry has seen a rise in online companies, some of which are considered to provide the best online counseling services. It’s safe to say that online therapy can indeed help you cope with culture shock when moving internationally.
The question is: How to find them? Here’s what to pay attention to:
- Determine what kind of therapy you need. For example, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a proven, effective method, even when the sessions happen over a video call. You can face sabotaging behavioral patterns you might not be aware of through CBT. In this case, focus on searching online cbt therapy provided by a company with high ratings.
- Read reviews from previous and ongoing users.
- Check therapists’ credentials and experience.
Those suffering from depression can benefit from online therapy as well
Functional depression can get in the way when you try to integrate into a new environment. That’s why online therapy facilitated by a licensed expert in the field of depression disorders is of great help to many who moved overseas. Remember that seeking out help isn’t anything to be ashamed of. With the right guidance and effort on your behalf, you can overcome the period of adaptation.
Make the most of online resources to overcome culture shock when moving internationally
When you move to another state with a completely different culture than yours, the best way to go through the initial period is to take it as a learning curve. Trials and errors are normal and are meant to help you navigate and find your place in a new environment. And most importantly, try not to take the whole adaptation period so seriously. It will all happen in the most spontaneous way. At some point, you’ll find yourself feeling at home.
You can always refer to Consumer Opinion Guide, as we deliver pro tips that make it easier to cope with culture shock when moving internationally. In addition to relocation hacks, you can find online therapy resources that come in handy whenever you feel down. So, head over to our website for useful tips and put them to good use.