Culture shock is a phenomenon that every British expat will experience to a certain degree. There is no way to avoid it, it’s how to manage it. Leaving your family, friends and everything familiar is scary – but there are ways to make it easier. Whether culture shock hits you hard or comes and leaves almost unnoticed is up to you.
Our reporter Devora Ori explores in more detail ways to combat this phenomenon
Learn and research
Before arriving to the new country take the time to learn about the place. What’s good about it, what’s bad about it, what’s simple, what’s difficult and what’s different. Learn about acquiring a visa, money transfers, emergency numbers etc. Try to avoid those nasty surprises. There is no better way of immersing into a different culture than learning its language. People will look at you differently if you at least try to speak their mother tongue. Knowing a few phrases can already take you a long way – being fluent can give you more than you have ever thought of.
Be open minded
As a British Expat, you will find many differences to what you are used to. Some of these will be better and some will be worse. Accept these, think about them as a challenge not as an obstacle.
Have a plan
If you are staying for an extended period of time, don’t forget to think about the future. What would you like to do in 5 years, 10 years? What are your career goals? What about family? These questions should be asked especially in the new country. Knowing where you are going will give you the sense of stability even when things aren’t going the best.
You will have difficulties but if you know how to notice the good things, you will always see the light even in the darkest hours. Remember why you came to this country. What made you fall in love with this place? For example when I’m in a bad mood, I always look at the palm trees that just grow everywhere. I find them awesome. They always make me feel like being on a holiday!
Keep yourself busy
Be adventurous! Explore! Try something new every day! Make friendships! You will have less time to feel homesick. As an expat you have a wonderful opportunity to learn and experience. Don’t miss it!
Leave your comfort zone
If you truly want to experience the new culture, you will have to leave your comfort zone. It can be scary, but it’s worth every moment of it and will eventually make you a stronger person.
Don’t forget to keep in touch
Now with Facebook, Skype and Whatsapp, nothing is easier than keeping in touch with your loved ones back in the UK. While it’s a bad idea to spend all your time on social media chatting with your family and friends who stayed behind, making them part of your new life can help you survive difficult times. Remember, family will always be there for you.
Build new friendships
Everyone in the US loves a good British Expat accent. It’s a nice starting point! Finding someone to make friends with is crucial in a new country. It will be easier to feel at home if you are not alone and finding a job is also something you will need a network for. It’s OK to have expat friends, being someone around you from a familiar background will definitely ease culture shock. But it’s important to find friends who have grown up in your new place. They will be the ones who help you truly experience what the country can offer.