Culture Shock Or Lack Of Knowledge?


So you decided to relocate. You packed all your stuff, booked a flight, rented a place to stay and you’re ready to go. Sounds exciting, uh? Of course it does, but do not expect it to be all hunky-dory. Even if you’re convinced about your decision, almost surely you will have second thoughts when you’re just about to leave. You say goodbye to family and friends, get on the airplane and you’re alone. So many things come to your mind. The people, the places you are leaving behind, and all those happy moments. As soon as you leave a city you start missing everything about it, even the things you hated the most.

Finally, you land. You are there. Breathe your new home!

Personally, I think nothing is more confusing than that feeling of excitement mixed with a squeeze of anxiety and melancholy. Because yes, let’s face it, the first two or three weeks will feature so many ups and downs in your mood. You’ll find yourself thinking “What am I doing here?”, and here comes the tough part. 

Here’s when you’ll start experiencing a culture shock. Culture shock happens to most expatriates. It is composed of four stages: the Honeymoon, the Frustration, the Adjustment and the Acceptance Stage. When experiencing this, you will have yourself questioning your decision to move to a new country. You’ll go from being totally positive to feeling kind of disillusioned. But you must accept it. It is a moment everybody who moves abroad goes through.

To overcome this moment, you should first of all stop thinking about your own habits and about you feeling uncomfortable with your host country’s customs and start getting to know a little bit of them. An open mind is a key to live better. Embrace the new culture, try to understand what is okay to do and what is not, you will soon fit in and everything will make much more sense.

When I moved to Berlin I felt a bit lost. People there were so different from my home country. I got complaints from people angry because of the tone of my voice – that I considered pretty low – while talking on the phone on public transports, more than once. I remember slipping on ice so many times during winter and nobody caring about it. I was so disappointed about nobody helping me while I was clearly struggling in getting back on my feet on that hard and slick ice. I was really questioning my capability of fitting into all this. But then, I started observing people’s behavior, the reasons behind their attitude and manners and I have to admit everything made a lot of sense to me. Why nobody was helping me on ice? In Berlin winter is really cold and the streets are iced over for weeks. They are just used to this. They fall and then they get up, as nothing happened. Because of course when something happens around you regularly, you stop paying that much attention to it and making such a big deal. Regarding the silence rule on public transports, I actually started loving it. I really enjoyed the peaceful and quiet coming back home after work, almost lulled by the sound of the train moving. To the point that, when landing in my hometown airport in Italy, I felt so uncomfortable with all the people loudly talking and screaming all around me. In conclusion, what at first made me think about moving back is what then made me fall in love with Berlin and I’m so glad today I can call this city home.

The secret is to stop looking at your past and start living your present. Your own reality is not the only one in the world. There are people having different beliefs and habits. Isn’t it why we travel? To get to know new points of view? Then, do not get afraid of diversity, embrace it, go deep in it and you’ll become richer. When something bad happens to you, look at the bright side and learn a lesson from a bad experience.

When you need a safe place, remember that you are your safe place. Find your own way of feeling at home. One good thing about relocating is that you will start from zero. You will learn a lot about yourself and you’ll manage to solve whatever problem you get through on your own.

So when it feels like you made the worst decision of your life, stop for a minute and think about something positive about that moment. Think about what you read here. You are not alone, you are not the only one going through all this. Other people overcame this and are having the best time of their lives, and so will you.

Are you thinking about relocating? Read our article here.

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Source: Work the World.

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