The first country gets to shape your perspectives while your new country challenges them. If you are getting ready to move abroad, or you just arrived it’s important that you get a second look at your expectations.
A second look means to get a better overview of the expectations and assumptions you are bringing with you. In other words, double-check the image you have created about how you think that things will be.
Based on your experience, stories from friends, pictures, etc. it’s completely normal you create your own movie, with its own script and timeline. You imagine yourself arriving at your new place, starting your new life with your new friends and your new job.
I don’t blame you, it’s only logical for you to do it. It allows you to feel better prepared for this uncertain experience. Especially when you have been given the chance to start from zero, to build a whole new life again.
You went ahead and planned it all. By the time you arrived in your new country, you knew already who you want to be and with whom you want to hang out.
Except, that the reality will hardly match what you planned.
Maybe as you read this, you feel that you have no expectations at all. You have decided to wait and see how things turn out in the end. And that is ok too. But, the chances are, that you do have some expectations and you just don’t know it.
So how do you prepare for your new country? By making sure your expectations or assumptions are as close as possible to reality. The further away they are from each other, the stronger will culture shock be.
Culture Shock and your expectations.
Culture shock is the result of the confusion you experience when you move to another country and your perspectives, assumptions, and expectations get challenged by your new environment.
It’s normal, it happens to everybody who moves to a new country and almost all the time, it’s actually good for you!
Because your new reality is constantly pushing you out of your comfort zone by making you do or say things you wouldn’t normally do, you get to grow from it. If you don’t get too frustrated with it, which is what brings me to your expectations.
So what kind of expectations you should have?
Everything depends on the place where you are going and on your personality; as well as, on the lifestyle/career/relationships you are looking to build.
That is why I can’t be too specific but, I will share with you a framework that will help you keep an open mind and your expectations flexible enough.
The goal is that you can easily adapt them as you begin to learn more and more about your new challenging environment.
A simple framework.
After twelve years of living abroad across three continents, there are a couple of lessons I’ve learned along the way that have helped me adapt faster. There is no particular order, just things I’ve learned the hard way.
- Patience is a virtue and the key to building your life again. Many times we don’t realize that the lifestyle we had at home took a lifetime to build. You are starting from zero, it will not take you a lifetime but, it does require some time. PATIENCE, PATIENCE, PATIENCE.
- Don’t judge, don’t compare. Understand that there is no place better than the other, it’s just different (you know what I mean). I guess you moved because the new place offered something the old one didn’t. In any case, don’t compare and don’t judge, just accept it.
- Learn to observe and to listen. By reading people’s body language and listening to their emotions, you will be able to get feedback on your conversations. Learning how people communicate and build relationships in your new country is crucial for building your network fast.
- Don’t resist the change, adapting to the culture does not mean you have to be somebody you are not. It’s ok to be proud of your heritage and your traditions but, you don’t leave there anymore. It’s not a 50 / 50 thing, leaving abroad doesn’t take but, adds to you instead. Grow by becoming 150% or maybe even 200%
- Be yourself when meeting new people. Don’t try to be somebody you are not, people will see through it and not value you for who you are.
- Do not be constantly checking in with people at home. It will not let you move on and start building your new life.
As you start in your new country.
Push yourself out of your comfort zone and try to keep a journal or perhaps start a blog. Writing will help you organize your thoughts allowing you to make sense out of the crazy experience.
But what is most important, I encourage you to develop your observation and listening skills. They will let you see and understand things that otherwise you may have not even noticed in the first place.
In the end, remember that this is a learning experience and many people would love to have the opportunity you have, so make it be worth it.
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Now before you go, I want to ask you to share in the comment section below, how culture shock has influenced you on your journey abroad?