It can be exciting to move overseas. New opportunities, new people to meet, a different lifestyle. However, if you’re moving somewhere that is completely different to what you’re used to experiencing in Australia, you may find you will experience culture shock. It can be exciting to move overseas. New opportunities, new people to meet, a different lifestyle. However, if you’re moving somewhere that is completely different to what you’re used to experiencing in Australia, you may find you will experience culture shock.
What is culture shock?
When you have moved abroad, you will be exposed to unfamiliar surroundings. The culture, attitudes and lifestyle of your new home can be completely different to what you’re used to. Before you start adapting to your new circumstances, you may feel disorientated. This is known as culture shock. Rather than being in an actual state of shock, you may experience difficulty processing the changes in the new environment.
Culture shock generally comes in a few stages, including:
- The initial honeymoon phase, where everything is new and exciting.
- A stage of frustration after the honeymoon phase wears off. Things may become to feel more overwhelming and you’ll be more aware of the differences between your new home and what you’ve been used to.
- You will begin to adjust to your new environment and become more relaxed and positive rather than disorientated and stressed.
- In the final stage, you will reach a stage of comfort, where you are more at ease in your new surroundings and have created a new routine. You can understand and appreciate cultural differences and begin to make new friends.
If you’re planning on moving to a country that is vastly different to Australia, you may find you will experience culture shock. Fortunately, culture shock doesn’t have to ruin your move. There are things you can do that will help you deal with culture shock.
Before you leave Australia, make sure you do your research. Learn everything you need to know about the country you’re moving to. Find out differences in cultures and lifestyles to help you prepare before you go. If you can, try and talk to someone who has been to the country you’re moving to, or even someone who is from there. This will help you feel less overwhelmed when you arrive.
2. Make connections
Try and meet someone from your new country who you can be open with and have honest discussions about your feelings. Making connections with people from your new country will help you to learn what is acceptable and what isn’t, and more importantly why this is so. This can help make your adjustment smoother.
3. Note positives about the culture
When you’re experiencing culture shock you may feel overwhelmed and often upset, which is perfectly normal. When you’re feeling like this it’s easy to feel like you hate everything about the new country and its cultures.
Instead, try and have a more positive attitude. Every day try and find something new and interesting about the culture. This will help you appreciate the culture, rather than having a negative attitude. Over time, you will find it easier to find things you like about the culture, and your culture shock will improve.
4. Learn the language
It can be overwhelming moving, and even more so if the country you’re moving to speaks a language other than English. Learning the local language can not only help you to overcome culture shock but will help you to live within the community. It will help you to make new friends and to feel more included. Knowing a second language is a skill that often is looked favourably upon, so study up and start learning.
5. Get involved in the community
This is a great way to not only make new friends, but learn more about the culture and customs, and will help you to make a new routine. Think about what you did when you lived in Australia. See if you can volunteer at any organisations. Try and join a sports club. Attend local markets or festivals. This will help make you feel right at home in your new country.
6. Understand why things are different
After the honeymoon phase disappears, you’ll soon become aware of the differences between your new country and Australia. These differences can often be frustrating, especially if it’s something you’re not used to or something you don’t agree with. Certain behaviours you are used to may now be considered offensive. Rather than being annoyed by differences, try and take the effort to understand why these customs exist in the first place. This will help you to gain a deeper understanding of the culture of the country you’re now living in and will help you to deal with culture shock.
Culture shock can often be difficult to deal with, particularly if you’re feeling upset and homesick. Keep in mind that everyone will experience culture shock in different ways. If this is your first time overseas, you’re going to have a vastly different emotional response to someone who has travelled and experienced new cultures previously.
While you can often be frustrated and negative when initially experiencing culture shock, it can help to remain tolerant and open-minded. Being flexible, rather than judgemental, will help you assimilate the new culture. However, this may often take time. Be patient with yourself and know that it will take some effort on your part to overcome culture shock. If it is becoming too overwhelming, make sure you have someone you can talk to, who will be able to help you find the best solution to move forward.
Don’t let the fear of culture shock put you off moving overseas! While it can often be challenging learning about a new culture and trying to fit in, it is a journey worth taking. Once the culture shock fades, you’ll be able to truly appreciate the new country you’re living in.
Are you moving overseas? Overseas Packers and Shippers can make your move easier. We have various shipping containers travelling to a wide range of destinations. We also offer services such as storage, insurance, wrapping and packing and home cleaning and garden services. Contact us today to find out how we can help with your overseas move.