Helping Prevent Culture Shock

Relocating overseas can be a bit overwhelming at times, especially if you’re moving to a place with entirely different customs and culture than what you’re used to.  Once you’ve moved past the honeymoon stage of being in a new and exciting environment, culture shock can set in and affect even the most seasoned world travelers.

Anything from adapting to a new climate, unfamiliar living conditions, and being separated from family and friends can contribute to culture shock.  While there aren’t any guaranteed cures, there are a few tips you can follow to help your transition go as easily as possible.

Stay in Touch with Family and Friends

These days, online communication tools like Skype and iChat can help make it easier than ever to stay in contact with the ones you love. Try to make regular phone dates with family and friends, and send each other regular care packages that integrate each other’s lives. For example, include them in local holidays and celebrations by sending traditional gifts and souvenirs, and have them regularly send you little reminders of home.
When it comes to receiving packages from your family and friends, if you read over your Rainier Overseas Guide to International Shipping you know that there are various fees that may be applied at the border. Import duties and customs inspection are just two of the minor inconveniences that can add up to be a real pain. If your family wants to send gifts to China,  for example, you might suggest they use an international gifting service in order to avoid any of these inconveniences.  This is also a great way for them to send flowers or small “thinking of you” gifts without worrying about customs regulations or shipping standards.

Get Involved with the Locals

Learning the language and making friends in your new home can help ease the feeling of being an outsider. The more you get involved and learn about your new surroundings the easier it might be to gather your bearings and discover your new favorite local restaurant or the perfect park to go jogging. Learning the language might not only help you gather your bearings in your new surroundings, but might also help locals view you as a new member of their society instead as just a traveler passing through.
Making friends with other expats and transplants may also be a good idea in order to have someone to share your experiences and maybe offer advice on how to adjust. It can be nice to have someone to talk to that has gone through your same situation and can offer reassurances and tips from personal experiences. If you are moving to a larger city try locating organizations and clubs for expats you can join to introduce you to your new environment.

Research the Culture

There may be some things you just can’t learn from walking around, like the history and traditions of your new country. Do research to discover the superstitions and culture to help prevent making a faux pas. For example, in Japan the numbers four and nine are considered extremely unlucky, and eating beef in India is extremely frowned upon.
Researching the culture may also leave you better prepared to celebrate the local holidays in earnest. When you fully understand the meaning behind the celebrations and behind the traditions, it might be easier to really embrace them and adopt them as your own new customs.  Another benefit you may see form researching the traditions and history is why people in your new home behave the way they do or adhere to certain principles. Use this experience as a learning opportunity.
Relocating to a new country can be the most exciting adventure of your life if you think of it as just that- an adventure. By embracing your new surroundings and taking steps to help ease the shock of adjusting to a new life, it can be a wonderful experience you’ll cherish forever.

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