3 Steps to Deal With Culture Shock While Working Abroad
Working abroad looks glamorous at first which can be combined with the excitement that comes with travelling to a new place, but there are a lot of surprises that are associated with it. These surprises or what can be better called as ‘unique experiences’ often make people to think twice about their decision. The disadvantage about it is that they are felt days after moving to a new place when the period of fun and enjoyment starts to wear off. What these people working abroad experience can be termed as “culture shock”.
Culture shock, though it may drastically change a person’s view of going for jobs abroad, should never come as a barrier in terms of career development; which was the first goal often when it comes to working abroad. It is always safe to remain prepared for it in order to tackle it effectively. Otherwise, it can lead to extreme stress, which in turn will affect your work and also your personal life.
Here are three steps that will help you to ease yourself into a new and different environment while working abroad.
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There is a lot of excitement and energy at the beginning when anyone moves to a new place to work, but often it happens that all of these evaporate after reaching the place. So it is always better to be prepared for the worst and this makes it easier to get up when you feel yourself sink into the abyss of cultural shock; ending your honeymoon period in that place.
Do an extensive research about the place. Before accepting a job offer to work abroad, check out the place and do research about the living conditions and how hospitable it is towards expats. Get to know the traditions the people in that place follow. You can buy a good guide book and learn some of the basic dos and don’ts that you need to follow.
Do not make your expectations go high. If you leave with the feeling that it will be a smooth ride, that’s not true. Whenever someone enters into a culture that is different, that person will feel not at all connected with the new one. It will make everything that you come into contact with in the new place feel strange. So, you should never keep your expectations high regarding this fact that you will never suffer from culture shock.
Ask the organisation if they have any local orientation programme. If your organisation helps you to get oriented to the new place and culture, then it is a great thing. Ask the corresponding HR person if there are any programmes provided by the company that helps its expat employees to get acquainted with the new culture.
When you start working at the new workplace abroad, you will gradually get to understand more differences that separate you from the people of that place. Whether it affects you professionally, in your personal life or both, you might begin to get irritated at even the smallest of things. Here’s how you can deal with it.
If you can’t beat them, join them. Living in a place without accepting the differences can take a toll on you. So it’s better to incorporate those local traditions as long as you can and feel at home. Accept the differences and it will make you feel a lot better.
When in Rome do as the Romans do. Do not know how to act in certain situations. Take the cue of the local people there and just copy them. It will save you a lot of trouble. You can also take the help of your colleagues to understand the local cultures and traditions.
Do not offend the local culture, language and traditions. There is one thing that you should do no matter how irritating it turns out to be, never offend the local culture, language and traditions.
The third step is all about accepting the differences so that it becomes normal to you. If you do not do that, you will continue to go deeper into the pit of cultural shocks. What steps you can take in that direction:
Try to learn the local language. Nothing brings you closer to the people of a different place than their language. If you are able to even speak a few words of the local language, you will feel a sense of acceptance. You just need to put a little effort and a good local friend or colleague who can help you with your mission to learn the language.
Understand that this is not a permanent thing. You do not have to stay in that place forever. If you were transferred or have moved for a project, you should focus on the work and see this time as work vacation. Also, you can always go back home after getting the required experience that you needed.
Above all, be patient. Patience will always be the best companion when you are suffering from cultural shock. Be patient and do not get stressed.
When you are in a new place, always try to make friends if possible. Get to understand the rules and laws of the place. Culture shock, though it sounds intimidating at first, can always be dealt with. Follow the above tips and have fun working in your favourite job destination.
Hasib is a career coach, blogger and a professional writer working for the job portal – . With an interest in providing career counselling for professionals, he has contributed a number of articles related to the topic on various online platforms.
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