See the latest content with helpful moving & storage posts and videos.
May 17, 2017

Getting used to a new culture after long-distance and international moves

  • International Moves
  • Long Distance Moves
An international move can come with some culture shock.

Moving across the country or to an entirely new one can mean dropping yourself and your family into a completely different culture. Whether you move for a corporate relocation for one of many other reasons, adjusting to a new city, state or nation can be a long, difficult process. Take these tips to heart and you may find adjusting to be easier:

Be cautious and pay attention

"Encountering a new culture means recognizing the major changes that may occur."

The Harvard Business Review discussed one strategy for adapting to a new culture, which isn't a shortcut as much as a successful mindset. The HBR said a common problem encountered by those moving long distances is following new cultural norms without knowing their limits. In other words, recent transplants may go too far in their efforts to fit in.

Consider a more careful approach, where you expose yourself to your new surroundings but more cautiously adapt and look to others - friends, colleagues, even family members who have moved with you - for guidance. This strategy helps in avoiding potentially embarrassing situations and leans on your legitimate status as a new resident to learn more about the local culture firsthand.

Learning ahead of time

While you shouldn't dive into the most complicated cultural expectations of your new home as soon as you arrive, there's nothing wrong with learning about them. Doing research ahead of time gives you a foundation of knowledge that can be developed and made more effective with the addition of in-person experience after you arrive.

Drawing information from a variety of sources and not leaning too strongly on any single one can help you adapt more successfully.

Understanding the three phases of cultural adoption

The U.S. Department of State said there are three stages many people experience as they immerse themselves in a new culture:

  • The honeymoon is an initial period of learning, enjoying and generally feeling positive about your new home.
  • The rejection is the period of time when you may miss your old residence and start feeling negatively about the new one.
  • The recovery occurs after more time passes and you begin to feel more comfortable.

To counteract the rejection phase, the State Department recommends keeping an open mind, staying physically active, making an effort to meet new people and continuing to learn about the new culture. It's also important to recognize that not every thought or feeling about your new home will be positive. Instead, recognize that every place in the world has a range of attributes, and try to seek out fun, engaging, entertaining and educational experiences.