When I first moved from Japan to Switzerland at age 1, I experienced everything there is to experience about culture shock. From being unfamiliar with local customs, to the unknown language spoken around me, to not knowing what the acceptable behaviours are. I felt alone, anxious, stressed, uncertain of what I should do/ how I should act. I longed for home in every sense - my family, my friends, my routine, my food, my everything!
So if you are experiencing any of the above, know that you’re not alone. I know how you feel first-hand. And I am here to give you some of the things that i did to deal with it, so that you can start thriving in your new home.
Get out there
I remember I wanted to just crawl back in bed and be alone, but that doesn’t help. Despite how you feel, you need to get out there and do things. As soon as you are out, doing stuff, and meeting people you will start to experience a sense of joy. This is the first step. You will find yourself going back to feeling lonely and uncertain but as you continue to put yourself out there, this emotion will slowly subside.
Develop a routine
It was easier for me when I was 11 as I had to go to school, so classes, meal times and sport kept me busy. If you have no routine as such, make a routine by finding a language course, or a cooking class, or perhaps join a gym - anything that you like to do, find the group and get involved. You will have less time longing for your previous home and you will start enjoying your new life.
I also remember constantly comparing home to my new home and I saw so many things that I missed about home - my friends, the food, the convenience, the language, the similarities I shared with everybody around me, and overall way of life! But comparing doesn't help you! It just makes you miss home more. Instead, find things you appreciate about your new environment. I for example, loved how much nature Switzerland had compared to Osaka, a city where I grew up. I loved how long the days were in the summer time compared to Japan. I loved how good I was in math compared to everybody else, just because the level of math at that age was more advanced in Japan. Seeing the positive, and things you like about your new home will help you adjust quicker.
The learning curve for me at age 11 was super steep as I have never lived abroad, didn’t speak the local language nor English, and I barely knew where Switzerland was, let alone know anything about the culture. And not knowing makes it harder to adjust.
So start educating yourself starting from learning the local language. Get a translation book. Learn the basic phrases eg. Learn how to ask directions, communicate with shops, ask for help etc. Learning the language helped me to slowly develop relationships with my peers, my teachers and so on. So if you want to develop relationship with people in your new home, then start educating yourself.
If you do all of the above, you will notice that culture shock will soon subside and you will start to enjoy your new life. Relocation is not easy but it will make you grow as a person, and you will learn to appreciate your own culture in new ways that you never could have, had you not taken that step beyond your borders into unknown territory. So brace yourself for this new journey. Don't let culture shock eat you in starting with the tips above today so that you can thrive in your new home.
And if you feel you need some help adjusting, I am here to help you! Sign up for a discovery call with me where I can tell you more about how I can help you!