Adjustment issues in a new country

Living abroad is certainly one of the greatest opportunities to encounter diverse experiences, cultures, lifestyles and growth opportunities. Despite the beautiful learning experience, moving abroad can be difficult for many individuals. Adapting to a new place and culture can be challenging. The most common adjustment challenge is often experienced in the form of  “Cultural Shock”. It is a natural response to change in the environment upon relocating.

The stages of Cultural Shock experienced by individuals are:

Honeymoon Stage – This is often the first stage where an individual is enthusiastic about the new place. It’s the most exciting phase which is often overwhelmingly positive.

Frustration Stage – This is usually the most challenging stage where an individual grows frustrated with their environment and the new lifestyle they are being adjusted to. These experiences can range from experiencing homesickness to finding simple day to day activities exhausting. They may also experience anxiety, depression and identity confusion.

Adjustment Stage – In this stage, people begin to gain familiarity and gradually learn to adapt to the new environment and ways of being.

Acceptance Stage – The final stage of cultural shock is acceptance. It is usually concerned with coming to terms with and getting into the routine and lifestyle of the new country. Despite the challenges, in this stage the individual is able to function effectively.

The most common challenges that are faced by individuals who move abroad are:

Financial issues

Adjusting to the new culture 

Home-sickness

Loneliness 

Language barriers

Certain research studies indicate that people who move to new countries have a higher probability of experiencing mood swings, homesickness, stress, anxiety, sleep difficulties, eating difficulties and relationship problems. Such big changes can bring out feelings of anger, rejection, loneliness and abandonment.

How to deal with cultural shock and adjust to a new country?

An effective step towards overcoming the phenomenon of cultural shock is acceptance. It is crucial to accept whatever is happening in order to understand self and the environment better. Give yourself the permission to experience the emotions that come up during this process.

Learn as much as you can about the new country/place. Research the destination, culture, traditions, customs, languages spoken etc. thoroughly and learn about the cultural etiquettes and cultural differences to smoothen the adjusting process. Having the basic linguistic skills specific to the region you are moving to, can help you get adjusted easily as it reduces the challenge of a language barrier.

It is important to have a network of friends, support systems and professionals providing assistance, required to navigate through this phase effectively.

Be open to change and new learning experiences, including broadening social networks. Remember to not isolate yourself.

Get to know people – Volunteering or getting involved in the community is one great way to get to know new people and develop strong relationships or support systems. Be proactive and build social life simultaneously which can help enhance cultural awareness, and in turn facilitate adaptation.

Open up and share about your struggles with family or friends. Communicate and spend time with near and dear ones.

Take care of your physical and emotional health by eating right, engaging in physical and recreational activities.

Have patience (it might take some time to adjust to the culture and place) and practice gratitude.

Explore the surroundings and reach out for help/assistance.

Create a comforting space – A familiar personal space in the new home can help during the transitioning phase. Hanging photos of family, friends and close people can help with settling in and experiencing positive emotions amidst the struggle.

Adjusting to a new country or place can bring about uneasiness and feelings of anxiety, fatigue, loneliness, sleep disruption etc. But if one looks at it as a learning process rather than a pathological process with developing the crucial skills of adjusting and adapting to the new lifestyle, the outcome is often immensely favourable.

Importance of Professional Counseling: A friend or family member may listen to you, but they aren’t professionally, technically qualified or experienced to offer you professional advice. If you wish you can contact us at MindTribe to receive help from our team of expert psychologists.

About MindTribe.in.

MindTribe Founder Dr. Prerna Kohli, India’s eminent psychologist, established the company to leverage the strength of the online to make counseling affordable and accessible to everyone. MindTribe provides counseling, workshops, support groups, forums, and eLearning.

About the Author.

Ashi Tomar is a psychologist at MindTribe.in. You can learn more about her by clicking here

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of MindTribe.in, the Founders, or management team.

Acknowledgement: All images used are open source and from Unsplash.

 

Nous vous invitons…

Nous vous invitons à prendre rendez-vous avec un de nos psychologues, psychothérapeutes et psychopraticiens afin de faire un premier pas vers le changement que vous désirez. Si vous désirez obtenir de plus amples informations ou si vous avez des questions, n’hésitez pas à nous téléphoner. Vous pouvez prendre un rendez-vous par téléphone ou en envoyant un email au cabinet des Psychologues de Paris 9 (à l’attention du psychologue ou psychothérapeute de votre choix).

Menu