Integrating to a New Culture – Six Tips to a Smoother Transition
Moving to a new country can be frightening. Even if the move is by design, there will still be some anxiety about integrating into the new surroundings. This article has been written to give you some tips on how to make your long term stay abroad more enjoyable.
The amount of integration will be proportional for the length of your stay as well as the extent to which the foreign country has familiar amenities. For instance, does the country have familiar foods available? And, does any one speak your language?
Here are some tips for making the transition more enjoyable.
1. Be humble. Humility is an overriding attitude that precludes all other aspects of cross-cultural integration. Humility is having a proper picture of yourself and others. It says you have something valuable to offer me and I may have something of worth to offer you, too. When you are humble you walk lightly, carefully observing the nuances of the life and culture of the host country. Humility allows you to be curious without being overbearing; teachable without being gullible; and appreciative without having to accept the worst aspects of a society.
2. Be curious. Curiosity allows you to take a good look at your new surroundings. You try some new foods, have converstaions with your national neighbors, humbly observe some of their practices. The people of your host country will embrace you, if you are willing to get outside your gate and engage them.
3. Be vulnerable. Don’t be so self-reliant. When I lived in Cambodia I noticed that many foreigners lived behind their iron gates afraid of thieves and such. Except when we were asleep, my family lived with our gate open. We wanted the people to wander in, poke their heads through the door, and feel free to be our friends. Instead of drive my own car around town, I used the local moto-taxi service. Through these means our neighbors got to know us and we got to know them. Eventually they started watching out for us and we had solid relationships of endearment.
4. Be appreciative. This goes along with humility. When you come to appreciate your new surroundings you will feel at home. You will be at peace with yourself and your new neighbors.
5. Culture shock is normal. In the first couple months your new surroundings will be novel. They will breed into you that sense of curiosity and the honest desire to be appreciative. However, little by little the novelty will wear off and what once seemed interesting and cute will seem like madness. The day will come when all the new sites and sounds and smells will overwhelm your senses and you will scream bloody murder. This is normal. It’s like the newborn baby at 9:00pm which is over stimulated by the noises of the streets and the blaring TV and such. Some say that culture shock hits eight months after you arrive and about eight months before you take a trip back to your home country.
6. Learn the language. If you plan to stay longer than two years, you must learn the language. You do not know how much the local people will embrace you when you attempt to learn their native tongue. Sure, there are always a chauvinistic few who will scoff at your effort, but mostly the people love to hear you use there everyday lingo.
These were a few tips on how to integrate in a new cultural. I hope you find them helpful. If you have any further questions on this topic write me at [email protected] .