Moving to another country isn’t merely shipping logistics, paperwork and packing. When you adopt another country as your home, you also adopt the culture, traditions and general way of life. This can be both one of the hardest and one of the most exciting aspects of relocation.
You may consider yourself to be extremely culturally open-minded, but experiencing a new culture whilst on holiday or travelling can be completely different to living within one.
No matter how open to new traditions and customs you may be, there will be times when a culture clash occurs. Perhaps your own set of moral values or your beliefs are compromised, or you feel offended by a tradition you disagree with. In these instances, it is important to deal with the situation in the best way possible. After all, you now live in this new country, you’re not just visiting. Culture Smart! guides offer advice on how to approach new cultures in a positive and rewarding way.
Give it time
When something is new to you, it can seem strange and make you somewhat uncomfortable. This is especially true of new cultures. The ‘odd’ practices, views and traditions can be unsettling to a foreigner. However, this is often because early on, very little is in context. The more time you spend in the new country, the more background and insight you will gain and gradually these ‘strange’ traditions will start to make sense. It is very important to be patient when settling into a new environment.
You can give yourself a head start on understanding the new culture by reading about your new home. Guides, official websites and forums are just some of the useful resources you have at your disposal. When you arrive, don’t be afraid to ask the locals about where their traditions and cultural practices came from. Showing an interest will pay dividends not only for your own knowledge base and understanding, but for being accepted by your new community. People are generally very proud of their culture and will happily explain the intricacies of it to foreigners.
Don’t expect to accept everything about the new culture
Despite your efforts to understand the customs of your new home, there may remain some aspects of the culture that you cannot abide. Sometimes, to accept parts of unfamiliar traditions means fundamentally changing certain perspectives. This is not always possible, so in these instances relying on self-control is your best plan of action. Voicing your displeasure will not endear you to the locals, nor will it change their ways. Keep in mind that these strange or disagreeable customs are normal for them.
Experiencing a new culture when you move to a new country is a fascinating chapter of relocation, and as with all aspects of moving, must be properly prepared for. A little planning will ensure that you can enjoy the journey to your ‘strange’ new world without any unnecessary obstacles.