Coping with Expat life?
How I can help you
While living in a new country finding your way through new references, codes and a different culture altogether can be difficult. You might go through all kinds of emotional ups and downs before finding the right balance for you. It is a long-term undertaking to get used to a new way of life, contrasting social interactions, a distinctive food culture, etc. It requires time to get used to it all.
My personal experience
How to adapt to a new country?
The process of intercultural adaptation and the best-known description of the culture shock to which this may give rise have been described in recent decades as following a U-shaped curve. This approach has been fully theorized by J.S. Black and M.E. Mendenhall (1991). The U-curve theory is a series of four stages forming an adjustment curve in the form of a U which compares the degree of adaptation of the expatriate to the time spent by the latter in the host country. What they call “culture shock” is actually a transitional experience.
The 4 stages are:
• Honeymoon: the expatriate will discover and marvel at everything around them;
• Culture shock: differences between cultures are felt with a sense of anxiety and sometimes even rejection about the host country;
• Adaptation: the expatriate will accept and adapt to changes;
• Mastery: the expatriate is increasingly comfortable in their environment and has adapted to the local culture.
How to overcome culture shock?
After a first period of ”honeymoon” during which novelty, difference, strangeness and the unknown fascinate, it is not uncommon for the cultural shock to follow. Gradually becoming aware of the contrasts that exist between his/her country of origin and the host country, the expatriate is exposed to situations that destabilize him/her. This occurs both in the professional and private sphere. A feeling of anxiety and disorientation can then settle in.
The person will begin to doubt their ability to cope with their new environment, to adopt a negative attitude towards the environment, difficulties and loss of points of reference. For some, anger, doubt, frustration, fear, loneliness will appear. Even minor problems can become sources of annoyance, frustration and loss of confidence. During this phase, the mood changes and the sociability of the person is affected, which can create a vicious circle.
Cultural differences then become overwhelming and increasingly present and stressful, especially because of the lack of understanding of the rules that could allow adjustment to the new culture. It is in such circumstances that hostility towards the host country and its population can sometimes develop. Misunderstandings hindering daily interactions appear as real obstacles. It is also the time when some people start feeling homesick.
When this phase starts lasting too long or creates too much suffering, it may be necessary to seek therapeutic counselling and support to get by it.
Getting therapeutic support with hypnosis and sophrology
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