International Relocation and Culture Shock

International Relocation and Culture Shock

So, you’ve decided to relocate across the sea. Once everything has been unpacked and you’ve settled into your new house, do you really feel ‘at home’ in your new country? Once all the hustle and bustle of the international relocation is over, do you really know what you’ve gotten yourself into? Do you know what to do for fun? You might be in store for a little culture shock.

After you move overseas, part of the culture shock you are sure to experience is the stress related to making new friends, communicating with others in a different language, and how to deal with new customs. This is perfectly natural. It is ok to feel a little lonely and isolated in the first few weeks after moving.

Usually, if you have moved to a country where the language and culture are similar to your home country, the culture shock won’t be as, well, shocking. It really depends on you. The key to alleviating any type of culture shock after an international move is to be prepared. Learn as much as you can about your new country ahead of time and you will be armed with some tools to make that transition as smooth as possible.

What are the Challenges?

The biggest challenge in dealing with an international move is to make the whole thing a positive experience. The burden of this challenge falls not only on the family itself, but the employer if the move was for a professional relocation. Feelings of loneliness and alienation are commonplace leading up to and immediately following an overseas move.

Significant adjustments go into an overseas move. Part of coping with these adjustments is to realize what they are ahead of time and to recognize any additional challenges that may arise with them. Many expatriates find joining a club or getting out into the community to be a real help.

If you are leaving for the office everyday in your new country, the transition may not be as difficult for you.  If you are an ‘at home’ spouse or a teenager, the challenge is a bit more severe. Remember to communicate with your family about how you feel.

Coping with International Relocation

All is not lost, even if there are some feelings of anxiety and loneliness after an international move. Before you relocate, why not seek others out who have done this before and ask how they handled the situation? There are online forums and even support groups you can join.

Once you arrive in your new country, try and find opportunities to socialize with other expatriates. This is a good way to become involved in local activities and meet new people. Remember, there may be other families out there that are going through the same thing – you have a lot in common! This is also a great way for your kids to meet new people, especially if they are too young for school.

Jon Huser