As an expatriate woman, adjusting to a new culture, you are constantly adapting to a new sense of place, maybe a new language, new cultural beliefs and expectations, and a myriad of new and uncomfortable situations. How do you do so with grace? Your greatest assets are your own reserves of creativity, resourcefulness, resilience, courage, flexibility and a sense of adventure. Remember that you have these traits within yourself, and call upon them. They will ultimately bring you personal power and greater success in your transition. How you view yourself and what you choose to do, in the midst of that transition can impact whether you feel more joy and grace or more stress and tension.
Each day is an adventure within a new culture…or can be an adventure if you can view it that way!
1-Create structure and new routines immediately
Structures for even the most carefree spirit will provide some comfort and sense of control within the new and unknown territory that you find yourself in.
2-Be gentle with yourself and let go a little
Coming apart at the seams (losing it a little!) is okay, and expected when adjusting and integrating into a new culture. Know your support systems and reach out. Be conscious of what best supports you, feels good, and empowers you during the somewhat stressful time of navigating a new culture or a monumental change in life.
3-Listen to your body
Do you need to play, dance, rest, exercise, sleep?
Diet, exercise, sleep and rest often go easily neglected when adjusting to a new culture or making a huge transition in life – be kind to your body, and give it what it needs.
4-Find a little time for yourself, to simply “be” rather than “do”
Stop “doing” for even 15 minutes a day and allow yourself to let go and create some space to reflect on your experience. It might be to simply go sit by the water, meditate for 5 minutes, or just stop when walking outside and simply listen to the sounds of your natural surroundings. Any connection to nature can be an automatic stress reliever.
5-Go enjoy yourself!
What do you enjoy doing? Do it on a regular basis. What brings you joy? Go do it. Play and fun deserve as much space in your life as the work and “have to’s” that you are faced with daily.
6-Just get out there and explore your new surroundings
Discovering what your new world and environment holds can create a sense of adventure and be fun for you! Empower yourself with knowledge of what is available to you by building familiarity with your area, neighborhood, city, or town.
7-Talk about it
The power of talking about what is on your mind allows you to lighten the load and frees up the stress of thinking about whatever is bothering you. Rather than keeping all those stressful thoughts bottled up, free yourself a bit, by sharing with a trusted confidante.
8-Be confident that you can and will find your way in navigating both cultures (home and new)
You can allow yourself to be who you are and maintain the connection to your own culture and language while taking in and absorbing an unfamiliar set of “rules” and norms. Remember that whatever feelings you are experiencing are absolutely, positively normal for you. The culture shock model is one reminder that there is a natural roller coaster of emotions that come with major life change and transition to a new culture.
Find ways to enjoy the ride!
Thank you to our contributing expert :
Rebekah Kane (firstname.lastname@example.org), spends her time between Chicago, San Francisco, and Boston. She is a coach, educator, and intercultural trainer, with experience training, advising, and coaching professional adults along with their career and life-changing journeys. She empowers and supports women in career and life transitions, cultural adjustment and in pursuit of their personal and professional development goals and dreams.