Whenever you move to a new city, state or overseas to another country, you’ll probably feel the effects of change. When moving overseas, to a place where nothing around you is familiar and you feel completely disoriented, you’ll experience culture shock. Culture shock often sets in gradually, and sometimes, can result in depression and withdrawal. It can feel like you’ll never be happy again and you may want to pack up and head back home. But before you do, see how you can help ease the stress that often accompanies moving to another country and culture.
Frankly, for me moving abroad has always raised in me the feeling of utter excitement. I guess coz it’s a great excuse to start over – and by that I mean to really?START? over. Of course, it depends entirely on you whether you?ll embrace that chance or let it slide through your fingers and stick to your old ways. And don’t worry. You don’t have to change the essence of who you are in order to fit in. The point is that you can start fresh – find new friends, hobbies, and discover new cuisine and just start that whole new life of yours.
Quick Ways to Adapt in a Foreign Country
1. Create a Home Away From Home
The first thing you should do after you’ve unpacked your last bag is to settle into your new space. But don’t just settle, make your space feel truly like home with things that remind you of home–things that make you feel comforted. If you weren’t able to bring things from home, find things that will make your new house feel more like home. Candles, blankets, plants–all are fairly inexpensive yet provide some necessary warmth and comfort.
Hang photos of home, friends, and family in your space. Not only will they remind you of all you love, but it will help you feel secure when you’re still trying to settle in.
If you’re on a budget and don’t want to spend too much, the best thing to do is to concentrate on the room where you spend most of your time. If you love to cook, make the kitchen the priority.
Purchase some cookware, nice plates and glasses so you can feel good cooking in your space. If you’re a reader who spends a lot of time on the couch, then concentrate on creating a cozy space in the living room. Create one main area where you feel good and more at home.
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2. Go out and explore
Yep, with your map, using Yelp, whatever ? just go out. Treat yourself with a cup of coffee from the local bakery. Initiate a conversation with a stranger – believe it or not, people are more than willing to talk to you if you show that you are interested to find out more about them.
I’ve met so many of my friends precisely ’cause I wasn’t scared to start to initiate that talk. And the more open you are, the more the locals will open up to you. The Danes are stereotyped as being ‘cold’. How come no? cold? Danes have crossed my path? It’s the vibes you give off that you’d get in return. As simple as that. Aw and yeah, if you don’t know the local language at least speak in English. It’s quite tempting to stick to your own language especially if you? rehanging out with someone from back home, but that will immediately put you in the unpleasant position of becoming the ‘foreigner’ who wants to remain the outsider who can’t fit in. This brings me to the next point:
3. Learn the language
Moving abroad means that you’ll be living abroad – be it for a few months or probably forever. So, starting to learn the language is highly essential. And if you have no spare time to go to school, at least do that at home. You’ve got the Internet at your disposal (as well as a bunch of Apps to help you learn a language) and today that’s already enough. And even if you find the pronunciation as pretty impossible (if you’re also an ex-pat in Denmark, I’m sure you get this one) it’s the fact that you’re trying at all that really counts and give you this ‘freaking’ cute’ vibe in the eyes of everyone else. Plus, then your local friends will be even more willing to swap back to speaking English, for the sake of both parties.
4. Taste new dishes
If I like a particular dish – honestly I can eat it every single day. In fact, a few times a day. So, yeah, experimenting with new dishes is not really my thing. But then – when you get invited to a dinner party and get served something you’ve never seen before – at least give it a go. If you are to live in this country, you’d better find things that you enjoy eating. Also, joining your acquaintances for dinner is certainly a great excuse to socialize, make new friends.. and really learn more about the local culture. And even though it took me 5 months to really give the Danish cuisine ago – it turns out it’s actually pretty delicious.
5. Take a Class
Taking a course, either out of interest or to learn something new like the local language, is a really easy way to meet new people. Again, like clubs, classes bring people together for a common interest. Plus, you’ll meet people of varying ages and from different areas. If you take a language course, you’ll also meet other foreigners who may or may not share your culture but who share your experience.
6. Be tolerant & Learn to listen
Being the social butterfly that I am, well, I love to talk and tell stories every time I get the chance and especially when surrounded by new people. I can talk talk talk… but frankly, there are stories that people born and bred in another culture wouldn’t really get. First, the sense of humor differs from one culture to another, as well as the language in which the story is talk (a story that has also taken place in a completely different cultural setting). So, don’t get upset if noon ‘gets’ what you’re on about. Rather, next time try to engage in the conversation, listen to what the others have to say, rather than spend your time trying to prove that you know better and that the culture you come from is better.
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Actually, that’s something quite typical for people who move to another country and would rather spend their time within the community from back home. Some of the people from back home, who studied at Loughborough University with me, did their best to stay in their own ‘Bulgarian’ bubble, mocking the ways of their English mates behind their backs. I guess that’s why I couldn’t be really bothered socializing with people who just WOULD NOT respect the culture of others. Plus, sharing the same nationality is not an adequate reason for making friends – and the quicker you realize that the better. And that’s the thing – if you can’t be tolerant and understanding why have you moved in the first place?
Of course, while I’m doing my best to respect the local culture and alter some of my old ways to fit in better – there are certain things I cannot help but keep doing. Like opening up to people more quickly than it’s normally accepted, giving warm hugs and speaking louder. Ops. But, at the end of the day, I’m not here to turn into a Danish girl. I’m simply a Bulgarian girl, who’s decided to make herself and the people around her feel as ‘hyggelig’ as possible.