A guide to handling expat culture shock

They say that moving house is one of the most stressful events one can experience in life. Well, try factoring in a move abroad into the equation. Not only do you have to deal with all the usual stresses a move entails, you also have to adjust to a new culture and lifestyle which can often be a lot more difficult than you initially think. This acclimatisation period can often include what is known as ‘expat culture shock’.
As your mind adjusts to the plethora of unfamiliar sights, sounds and ways of doing things, it can be somewhat overwhelming and put a strain on your mental resources. It might manifest itself as feeling down or homesick, or you might find yourself becoming irritable and short-tempered. Just remember all is not lost. The key to coping with expat culture shock is to be prepared for it to strike, take steps to minimise its effects and remember that it is just a phase you might need to pass through before settling into the new overseas life of your dreams. Here are a few top tips to help you do just that:
1. Do your research
Read up as much as possible about your chosen destination before you go so you have an idea of the challenges you might face. Forewarned is forearmed and the Internet is a glorious mine of information with blogs and expat support groups that offer plenty of local information. Plus, signing up to forums means you can ask questions and advice of people that have been in exactly the same position as you.
2. Set some routines
Psychologists say that establishing routines make us feel secure. Think of your morning routine – you could probably go through it on autopilot couldn’t you? By setting yourself little processes throughout the day or the week, you free your mind from all the analysing and decision-making that you will no doubt have to face during your move – giving you space to take a breather.
3. Stay connected
We are living in a digital world and staying connected with friends and family back home, recounting your experiences and allowing yourself to laugh over any grievances or frustrations, will help you to stay strong and take things as they come.
4. Expand your social circle
Human beings are social animals and linking up with other expats in your chosen destination can help you settle in quickly. Explore expat networks in your area to see what sort of social functions, clubs or activities they offer, or sign up to a language class so you can converse with the locals.
5. Practice acceptance
Rome wasn’t built in a day and nor was settling into a new country and way of life. Be prepared to experience some level of culture shock and give yourself a good few months to settle in before making any rash decisions about your future or how you feel about your move. By staying open-minded and patient, you just might find the cloud passes sooner than you think.
If you are moving abroad, Cadogan Tate’s experience and attention to detail guarantee you peace of mind. From start to finish, we ensure the entire moving process goes smoothly – from initial enquiry to unpacking at your new home. Find out more about our specialist international removals services from London.
Information correct at time of publication.