Are you going to live in another country soon? Beyond the material and administrative preparation, it is necessary to think of the psychological preparation which will help you to more easily overcome a possible clash of cultures.
Here are 10 tips that will allow you to overcome cultural differences to flourish and build a new life in your host country.
1. Become aware of cultural differences
Culture shock is a normal part of your adaptation to a new culture. It is logical to feel disoriented, even stressed, when you move away from your universe and your familiar habits to immerse yourself in another reality that you will have to get to know. Understanding and accepting this culture shock is already a step towards integration, because it means that you become aware of the existence of these differences.
2. Make concessions
Be forgiving and take the time it takes to adjust. Making value judgments about the culture of others risks preventing you from appreciating all the riches that you can draw from it. To avoid misunderstandings and hastily formulated opinions, try to establish friendly relations with the local population and ask them to enlighten you on some of their practices that seem shocking or incomprehensible to you.
3. Take care of your body
Culture shock doesn’t just affect the mind, it can also cause the body to be more vulnerable. It is advisable to do regular physical exercises and get enough sleep to allow the body to recover more quickly and to replenish energy.
4. Respect local practices
Showing respect for the local people, their culture and their beliefs makes it easier to adapt to your new living environment. Whether it concerns eating habits, certain values such as the place of women in society or practices that do not always seem clear to you, accept them as part of the habits and customs of your host country to which you will have to get used to it. To do this, avoid staying permanently among expatriates and do not hesitate to participate in social life.
5. Document yourself as well as possible
Before your departure, it is advisable to inform yourself in detail about your destination. Knowing the prohibited or taboo gestures and attitudes will allow you to avoid many mistakes. In many Asian countries, such as China or Thailand for example, you should avoid touching your head or passing things over your head. The head is considered the most important part of the body, as it houses the soul and the spirit and deserves the utmost respect. In these same countries, it is better to avoid closing doors or drawers with the feet, they are the lowest parts of the body and they are considered impure.
6. Fully embrace your professional framework
The new working environment sometimes gives rise to the greatest concern, you have to adapt to a different mode of management, to new colleagues and to habits and practices that are still unknown. Take advantage of this change to enrich your professional experience.
7. Take advantage of cross-cultural training courses
When possible, take part without hesitation in the intercultural training courses offered by your company, before your departure.
8. Don’t lose touch
Stay in touch with your family, friends and former colleagues and you will feel less isolated. This will also allow you to better prepare for your return when the time comes.
9. Go local
Don’t lock yourself into old habits. Observe what is happening around you and live to the rhythm of the other inhabitants. Try to see what they are doing and when, and get started!
10. Go scouting
If you have the means, a reconnaissance trip is ideal for getting a first glimpse of your host country, its population and the living environment that awaits you. This first contact with the local culture will help you enormously at the time of expatriation. Changes, even if they have been long prepared and awaited, can also be dreaded or difficult to bear. No traveler is immune to culture shock, but by following our advice, you can fully enjoy your new life.
If you need other information that could help you successfully adapt to a new culture, do not hesitate to discover all the advice from ACS. And you, do you know any other tips to facilitate an expatriation?