How to adapt to a new country

Psychologist Geert Hofstede wrote: “Culture is like an onion that can be peeled, layer by layer, to reveal the content.


Moving to a new country is difficult on its own. You have to deal with a lot of administrational issues, find  a source of income, find a place to stay and when the time is there you have to start packing the things that are important. Make a list on your phone with things you should not forget. That way you can add new things and always have the list nearby. Add things such as photos of friends and family and little trinkets that have personal value.


Also keep in mind that you have to prepare mentally as well. Take enough time to learn the language and dialect for example and find contacts before you move that might be able to give you a small tour. They might be able to show you your nearby supermarket, doctor and introduce you into their circle of friends. Also is it advisable to join a club or community.

Finally! You moved abroad!

Now.. give yourself the time to adapt and explore your neighbourhood, meet the people who live in the same apartment and most important thing is to be respectful, patient and humble. Observe how the people in that country are talking, behaving and try to adjust on that with an open mind. Keep in mind that not everyone will understand you, they do not know why you are very excited to see things or why you will not try certain types of food. Don’t let that stop you though, join a club or a community and go to museums to learn more about the country. Eventually you will feel yourself changing, your mentality, you start liking that weird kind of food but… then it happens, you also start realising the negative aspects of moving to a new country.

Culture shock

Everyone who has travelled or moved abroad has experienced a culture shock. Some people deal with it really easily and some go home because the shock is too big. There are three phases in which we can explain the cultural shock.

  1. You are excited and open to new things. You want to learn and explore!
  2. You begin to realise the deeper cultural differences. You might feel isolated while anxiety and nervousness take over.  You miss the usual days you had back in your home country, you might be homesick and all the changed can give you minor health problems. You feel positive and negative feelings take turns.
  3. You start understanding the culture and the country where you are in, enjoy your new surroundings and decided you are not losing hope, even though you can have difficult moments.

Most of the time you might not even realise you are in a culture shock. You’re just dealing with it like everything new, but don’t let it keep you from exploring the world. This is a situation from which you learn and grow.

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