Updated: May 11, 2018
Guest Blog - Kathryn Eade, Coach and Intercultural Specialist.
Moving to a new country means adjusting to a new culture. Living in a new culture that is
different from your own is an exciting adventure, but at times it can be challenging, frustrating
and even overwhelming
Regardless of what country you are from and which culture you are moving to it is common to
go through a period of cultural adjustment.
You can watch the interview explaining these in more detail here:
Everyone will move through this adjustment period at a different rate, in their own time. There are things however that we can do to shorten the journey and make it a smoother ride.
If you're keen to reduce the time you spend adjusting, and start enjoying your new adopted country sooner, try these 5 strategies, and let me know how you get on:
1. Be curious
Don’t be afraid to ask questions about other people’s cultures.
This is one of the best ways to learn and much more up-to-date than reading a book.
Put some thought in to how and when you ask questions. Show that you genuinely want to learn
about the culture and are not just asking so you can pass judgement. Make sure the person is in
the right space to be able to explain things to you. Be sensitive. If they don’t seem to want to talk
about it, don't push them.
2. Put energy in to understanding NOT judging
Sometimes the things people from other cultures do can seem strange to us, even wrong or inappropriate.
If we work hard to understand the context that culture has developed in and the rationale for why
things are done that way, we may see things in a new light. Even if we don’t agree with them.
If we put too much of our energy in to judging and not enough in to learning, we will be making
decisions based on something we haven't taken the time to really understand.
3. Pause & Reflect
As humans we are often quick to draw conclusions about other people’s behaviour. This can be
unhelpful when we meet people from our own culture, let alone when we find ourselves in a
culture different from our own.
It's easy to assume a behaviour means something that in fact it doesn’t.
Take the time to stop and reflect before jumping to conclusions. This will help you realise that
you may just be seeing things through your own cultural ‘lens'; and there may be more than one
explanation for that behaviour.
4. Be prepared to make mistakes
You will inevitably make mistakes as you explore a new culture. Try to find the funny side to
these situations and laugh at them.
Others will then likely respond to you with friendliness and support.
Keep in mind that the people may make assumptions about your culture too. If it feels right this
is a great time to share things about your culture.
5. Seek the support of others
This might be someone who is from the culture, or who knows it well. It needs to be someone you can talk to honestly. Someone who you can ask questions to who might be able
to clarify any confusions.
You may also find it helpful to link up with other expats. Talking to them can be a great way of getting quick insights in to the new culture you are now living in.
People who are on the same journey as you, but have potentially already made the cultural faux pas and learnt the hard way.