Culture shock is a common experience for many who relocate abroad. Huge cultural gaps can exist between people moving and working in different countries. For some expats these gaps can be quite significant and it can be quite challenging to deal with. Often companies neglect to train employees to deal with this shock because they have underestimated the impact it can have on staff when they relocate to another country.

Relocating and Culture Shock Symptoms

What is culture shock? Basically, it occurs when people discover that their way of doing things doesn’t work. What once were habits become an overwhelming number of decisions. You get frustrated, irritable, fatigued, anxious and depressed. You can’t cope. You withdraw, often oversleep to escape, and turn aggressive against the host culture.

Tips to help you manage culture shock when relocating

Take some language classes.

Language training is important. Cross-cultural coaching during which employees hone their interpersonal skills by role-playing with people from other cultures is also useful.  

Keep an open mind when relocating to another country.

Do not automatically perceive that anything different to be “wrong” or “negative”. Withholding judgment will allow you to be an objective observer and will facilitate the process of cross-cultural understanding. Also, if you are relocating to a country with which you know close to nothing about, do some background information. As you learn about the country  you are relocating to, keeping an open mind. Having the right mindset, which includes an openness to new things and an appreciation of cultural differences is really important when you are relocating.  

When relocating to a new country learn the local language.

This increases your communication skills and helps you to integrate with the local community. It also demonstrates your interest in the new country you have relocated to.

Get to know people in your new environment.

Respectfully ask questions, read newspapers and attend a variety of festivals and events. Once you have relocated try to achieve a sense of stability in your life. Establishing a routine will give you a feeling of safety.

Most importantly, maintain a sense of humor when relocating to a new country.

Don’t be too hard on yourself if you make a cultural gaffe or don’t know what to do in a social situation. Laugh at yourself and others will laugh with you. Most individuals will admire your tenacity and effort to understand their ways.