When you move to a foreign country it will always take some time before you get really settled in. I have spoken to friends and colleagues in Norway who are from Sweden and Denmark. They tell me that even if it neighbor countries, and supposed to be easy, it is not just plain sailing.
So the blog post today is all about how to break through this culture chock and get settled. I must admit that the material here is not really mine. I have stolen most of the text from a book called “Breaking Through Culture Shock”, by Elisabeth Marx. Even the drawing below is from this book is. But I found it so interesting that I decided to write about it. And if you find this interesting, why don’t you buy the book and read more about it.
What Ms. Marx writes is that every person who moves to a foreign country goes through the four phases of Honeymoon, Culture shock, Recovery and Adjustment. And I do think that I do feel home in what she writes.
When you come to a new country, everything is nice and interesting! Even obstacles are something that you enjoy and find funny! When moving to India this can typically be to se cows in the streets, cars driving on the other side of the road, and also the traffic that is so slow. All of this is new and exciting to you. For me it really was like that, and I even, well at least kind of, enjoyed the monsoon rain. This is the Honeymoon phase.
Then all the pain comes in. You do realize that nothing is like home. Maybe you get ill, and you will surely have problems with paper works, colleagues that are different and all that kinds. And it is not funny anymore, just annoying. Exactly when I was in this phase, I’m not sure. Maybe I’m even still there J. It has surely been some bad periods, like when I had to complain to the real estate agent every day. Typically for the Culture shock phase.
In order to ever get to the Recovery phase, I think it is important to realize that things are different in a different country. As Ms. Marx writes: “you have to accept that you have a problem and then to work on it”. I mostly agree with that. Some people never get through this, and they feel that everything is just a pain. Most often these folks go home quite soon. To me it has been important, but surely difficult, to accept that things are different. And to not see it just as problems, but as differences.
When you manage that, you can move on to the Adjustment phase. I hope, and honestly think, that I’m in that phase now. Like this morning, it took me some time before I could get an auto and get to the office. And some just drove past me and did not wanted to pick me up. But now I know that they are driving to other places, and that there will come someone who will go where I want him to go. You have to follow the flow and do a bit like the locals do it.
In another post later, I will write something about what I think is necessary in order to as soon as possible come to this adjustment phase. If you have any comments or suggestions, I’ll be happy to hear from you.
Talk to you soon