Markel is a Culture Transition Specialist. She works with people
relocating for work on the unique needs that arise when transitioning
to a completely new culture. Heather speaks six languages, and has
lived and traveled all over the world. We asked her to share her
ideas on the best way to become comfortable in a new culture. Heather
you don’t invest some time into creating the ideal life for
yourself transitions to foreign cultures can lead to feelings of
frustration, depression and loneliness. This can be true both of
moves abroad or relocations within the same country. We often give
priority to the packing, shutting off the phone or setting up a
new bank account, yet we forget to focus on our emotional and personal
needs. These needs end up having a much bigger impact on our well-being
than the short-lived bureaucratic frustrations.
Here are 20 tips I’ve
gathered to help you transition successfully to a new place:
expectations and judgments...
of the leading causes of disappointment when relocating is
failed expectations and perceptions based on other people’s
experiences. We all have them. “Paris is the most beautiful
city on earth!” “My new boss will love my work!”
“Everyone in that city is snobby and rude!” Take
the time to get in touch with all your thoughts, judgments
and expectations about your relocation. Then you can figure
out the underlying needs being expressed, such as the desire
to be happy at work and make caring friends. Once you know
this, you can create a plan to take care of those needs.
Make new friends...
sounds obvious, but it’s not always an easy task. Cultural
and value differences may make getting close to people an
unusually laborious experience. The best thing you can do
is let go of trying to find friends who are exact duplicates
of the ones you have back home. It’s important to develop
friendships with locals that will be around for a long time
so that you don’t scramble to re-create friendships
every few months.
Try to do some
of the social work before you leave. Networking, and seeking
contacts, at a minimum, is a process that should be started
before you move. By reaching out to new contacts before you
relocate, you will have already begun the process of forming
a new network that will make the transition process easier
too much time on the Internet and phone...
Twitter and Skype are a few examples of outlets that are a
blessing and a curse. It’s easy to find yourself using
any of these technologies at late hours to stay in touch with
your wonderful friends and family back home. Beware. If you
spend too much time with them, you won’t allow yourself
to live in the present. This can lead to isolation and loneliness.
By spending time with people down the street, you’ll
create a wonderful local group of friends with whom you can
share the good and bad times.