So you’ve now had the days when you loved the new city or country you moved in to. You’ve also been through some tough times where you just wanted to go home and never come back to this weird and intimidating place. After the whole spectrum of (completely normal!) emotions that you’ve experienced there should come a time where you start making sense of it all – the adjustment stage.
It’s very important to understand that various people may experience such a life change in a different way. Your adaptation is very much linked to how you perceive change in general, the environment, the circumstances during your move and many more. Nevertheless, the probability of experiencing numerous challenges after moving abroad is very high, so it’s worth familiarising yourself with some aspects of the honeymoon and frustration phases.
Adjusting your behaviours and attitude
Adjustment stage is a point by which after moving abroad you have had some experiences already. They might have not necessarily been comfortable, easy or pleasant. You have learnt from them though. And that is now your biggest asset. You are beginning to understand the underlying reasons for people’s behaviours. You start being ok with various things that are done differently here. You might even already start adapting your behaviours to reflect what you’ve learnt about local customs. You may still struggle with some of the behaviours, but you’re willing to try to adapt. You’re ready to make the effort to become a part of the new community you live with now.
It is a very important moment when you first start realizing that you actually don’t mind doing certain things anymore, you find some of them less weird. For me the ‘how are you’ bit in England was very much a struggle. The fact that it’s just a thing you say and not an actual question about your wellbeing was bringing a variety of emotions in me at one point. But now although I still am not quite comfortable with it and have to remind myself to greet people in that way a lot of times, I’m getting better, I’m adjusting. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like you h a v e to do it and otherwise it’s a faux pas. It’s just a thing people do here and that’s just one of many small things you can do to f e e l more adapted.
Accepting the differences and moving on
According to various specialists the last phase of adapting to the new culture is the acceptance stage. The idea behind it is that after all the struggles, after all the conscious efforts to adjust your behaviours to what you notice around you, you finally start doing it without much difficulty. You sometimes even stop noticing that you’re doing some of the things that a couple of months ago seemed very weird to you. By now you started to understand the underlying reasons for people doing it and made efforts to adapt.
As much as such a state of being comfortable in your new home is very much needed and something most of us subconsciously acts towards after moving, the reality is that it might cause us some problems when we go back home. The concept of a reverse culture shock has its causes in our successful adaptation to the host culture unfortunately and is not really something to be avoided. But that’s a whole other topic…
Moving to a new city is a challenge. Moving to a new city abroad is an even bigger one. It’s important to remember that feeling insecure at times or sad is absolutely normal. Feeling excited is very normal too! What is very likely as well is that you’ll experience the whole spectrum of emotions. The best thing you can do is not trying to change them right away, but trying to understand where they come from. This will provide you with some great knowledge which may help you adapt to the new culture faster in the end.
Where are you now? How long have you been there? How are you feeling in this place?