23 Oct

How Expats can Avoid Culture Shock

Living abroad alone is becoming a growing trend, especially among young professionals. In today’s climate, where building your career is important and young

Life as an expat is full of hurdles, but it also presents a number of unique opportunities to grow as both a person and a professional. Business customs abroad can vary differently from those practiced in your home country. Those who aren’t familiar with the local business customs and etiquette may experience the phenomenon known as “culture shock. Whether you’re a frequent international business traveler, or a seasoned expatriate, here are some ways you can be mindful of your destination country’s culture:

Turn to work, friends for help

Recently, more than 8,000 expats across the world took the time to answer questions for The Expat Survey 2013. Participants came from over 125 countries and spanned many nationalities, including American, British, Indian and Australian. Participants were asked what types of things they did to help integrate with their new culture and how to avoid culture shock.

The most common answer was work and friends, according to The Expat Survey 2013. Asking for advice from an employer can shed some light on the inner workings of the new country. In addition, many expats also turn to religious organizations and their local embassies for help. Overall, expats understood that patience was needed to learn the many different cultural, social and professional dynamics present abroad.

Learn the stages of culture shock

Culture shock can come in many shapes and sizes, so you should identify which ones may impact you as you move abroad. Certain emotions can either help you during the transition or make things more complicated.

According to Kwintessential, the first emotion you may experience is one of joy. Early on, youcould be impressed and amazed by the new culture, preventing you from feeling concerned or worried. However, you may soon miss your friends and family back home, or become stressed with your new job. You could exhibit signs such as boredom, apathy, irritability and hostility. In most cases, a positive attitude and patience can help overcome these issues.

Don’t try to cope alone

Dealing with the effects of culture shock can be challenging, but problems are often made worse if you try to tackle everything on your own. Instead, do as many other expats have – turn to those around you, including those who have done it all before.

InterNations magazine recommended that you talk to your company’s human resources department. These professionals are well-versed in the expat experience and they can provide crucial resources to make your transition easier. Moreover, you may benefit from performing some research ahead of time. Before you make the move, check out your new country. Learn about its culture and its people so you won’t be caught off guard once you move there.

Above all else, take a look at customs and cultures and determine where there are risks that may impact your life. Be ready for culture shock. Nearly everyone goes through it at some point, so preparing for the inevitable will help you cope with any problems. Understanding what lies ahead of you will make it much more manageable.

When going abroad, do research ahead of time and embrace the culture. Find out other tips for living and working abroad.