A lot of changes occur the moment you decide to live abroad. You’ll have to bid some of the old ways goodbye so you can welcome new possibilities. This process of unlearning some prior influences and learning new ones to adapt to the different environment is referred to as acculturation. While acculturation takes place, you can expect to experience these four coping strategies:
As you adjust to the new norms, you’ll feel happy to welcome change. You’ll be delighted to visit new places, try local cuisines, and do what you can to adapt. As you assimilate to the new country’s culture, your goal is to be able to live as a local would.
Once you’ve adjusted enough, you’ll find yourself knowing where to go for your basic needs. You’ll also find yourself friends whom you can spend idle weekends with. After some time, you will feel distant enough from your prior culture that you’d feel a sense of separation anxiety. At this time, you will bring back habits that make you feel closer to your old comfort zone. You will eat meals that remind you of home and spend time with people who remind you of the old times.
Feeling distant from your old ways can feel saddening to many. Different people detach in different ways and for varying durations. Once you have accepted the new norms, which is a collection of the old and new ways, you will feel more comfortable with the rapid changes that took place. You’ll be able to balance and integrate snippets from your prior culture while still adapting to the new one.
Some people find assimilating to a new culture confusing. This is especially the case when you balance two contrasting cultures. If the two cultures just don’t mesh, you may react in a way which negates both influences, letting you create your own routines and habits. Such is the case when moving from a warm Middle Eastern country to a freezing European country where everything feels, looks, and tastes different.
Although living abroad brings with it a lot of appealing opportunities, acculturative stress is common among immigrants and overseas workers. The stressors can manifest into anxiety, depression, substance abuse and other forms of maladaptation. To lessen the stress brought about by such changes, moving to a safe and accommodating country is crucial. Mental health is commonly overlooked, and it shouldn’t be. When seeking opportunities in Europe, Malta has an easy-to-adapt-to culture and Mediterranean weather. They also take strides in being accommodating to non-locals through their Global Residency Malta programme, which is one of the most efficient to process in Europe.
Moving to a new country can feel like entering uncharted territory. To help you acculturate better, and to reduce the strain on your mental health, finding a support system works wonders. Joining communities of ex-pats and regularly communicating with loved ones will give you a healthy balance of the new and old. Don’t forget to give yourself time to enjoy things once in a while, instead of completely throwing yourself into the busy workplace.