Adjusting to another culture can be intimidating. The unfamiliarity of language and cultural norms can be a cause for discomfort and frustration. While the initial instinct may be to isolate and only speak to those from home, this is shown to slow down adjustment time significantly. Whether someone is relocated as a result of immigration or are studying abroad, there are a variety of ways to speed up cultural adjustment and help them feel at home.
It’s easy to let personal beliefs and values cloud the perception of other cultures. This can only be detrimental to the individual, however, and make them feel more like an outsider. To get the most out of any experience abroad, it’s best to try to have an open mind and genuine curiosity about the new culture. Asking questions and putting oneself in other’s shoes will help them learn and enjoy other customs.
Understand Cultural Relativity
There is no “correct” way to culture. While it is normal to have some degree of bias, understanding that others feel the same way about a culture can help keep things in perspective. “Good” and “bad” are not relevant when it comes to judging a culture’s practices and ideas. Labeling cultures as such will only breed frustration and get in the way of adjustment.
It’s okay to experience discomfort—and it would be strange to not! Growth comes from challenge and adjusting to another culture is not easy. All of the emotions one is feeling are not uncommon, and it will take time to be comfortable. Easing off of the pressure to fit in right away and allowing oneself to make mistakes has been shown to help in the long run.
Look for Support
The feeling of loneliness can often creep in when adjusting to another culture. Finding support in immigration ads or community groups can help one feel less alone—and learn more about the culture. It may also be helpful to reach out to someone from their native country who has been in their shoes. They can give insight into their journey to adjustment as they have a similar experience.
There is nothing quite like adjusting to another culture. By keeping a positive mindset and perspective, the highs and lows that come with the process can be very rewarding. It is important to keep in mind that there is no formulaic way to reach cultural adjustment, and that’s part of what makes it so exciting.