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Adapting To A New Culture Essay Papers

Adapting to a Foreign Country

Cultural Adjustment when moving to a Foreign Culture

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Moving overseas to a culture that you know almost nothing about is like taking a giant leap into the unknown. Hola, Bonjour, Guden tag�welcome to the international world!
What is the biggest question on your mind? It is most likely how to adapt quickly to the new country and what to expect there. We hope the following information will be helpful to you during this transition.
Cultural differences usually include language, religion, political organization, customs and more. One of the difficulties that many people have is dealing with the stereotypes of others. For example, Americans are often seen as loud, immature, wasteful, informal, and ignorant - obviously this does not apply to ALL of them - and likewise for the stereotypes of other cultures.
The first step in preparing for life in a new culture is to educate yourself about the country you�re moving to. Read books, rent videotapes, check out web sites, and talk with colleagues, who've been there, and contact the embassy or consulate of that country. These resources can give you good insight on the way of life in that country.
Next, become familiar with the language spoken there and be aware of the familiar vs. polite forms of address. Even a few basic phrases will be helpful. There is a saying that goes, "Speaking someone's native language is the quickest way to their heart." And even if you make some mistakes, they'll admire you for trying.
Beware of hand gestures and get a feel for social customs. Studies have determined that communication is based 55% on non-verbal acts such as facial expressions, gestures, etc. This can be crucial in a foreign environment. For example, former President Clinton made the mistake of making the okay sign in Brazil (a circle with the thumb and fore finger) which is a profanity in their culture. A big faux pas that could have been easily avoided!
Another factor to consider when moving to another country is culture shock. According to Webster, culture shock is: A condition of anxiety and disorientation that can affect someone suddenly exposed to a new culture. It's important to know that these feelings are pretty typical when adapting. After all, your way of life will be very different from what you're used to. It can affect everything from diet to the clothing you wear or the side of the street you drive on. The following are some suggestions on how to get through culture shock:
 - Join a club where you can meet other transplants and learn from one another's experiences. Visit the New Comers Club for more information.
 - Assimilate through places of worship, sports clubs, schools and develop relationships with coworker's families.
 - Have a newspaper from home mailed to you periodically, or go online for articles and info in your language.
 - Volunteer your time to an organization.
 - Take tours of the areas natural and historical wonders.
Because your way of life will be so different, it's important to carefully consider the following for you and your family's safety:
 - If someone in your family needs serious medical attention, at what point would you evacuate them back to their native country? Familiarize yourself with the medical system available.
 - If there is a national crisis, at what point would you evacuate your family and how would you get out? View travel warnings by clicking here.
 - Are there special security concerns that require additional attention (i.e. kidnapping insurance, hiring a body guard, etc.)?
 - If standard communications are out of order due to a political or natural disturbance, how will you notify family that you're alright?
 - Find a good doctor right away, especially if you have kids. A new climate and foreign environment can be hard on the immune system. Click here for information on immunizations.


If you're moving from the U.S. to overseas, most appliances will have to be converted to 220 Volts. You may find that the house you move into doesn't come with everything OR the kitchen sink. Appliances are often considered a renters or buyers personal purchase. Because of different dimensions and requirements, these are better to be purchased on location, but be prepared for what is often a hefty price tag.
Luckily, there are a few things that you can transport and adapt without much trouble. Plug converters can be used with: lamps, telephones, answering machines, radios, computers, printers, fax machines, exercise machines, humidifiers, and kitchen tools like coffee machines, blenders, mixers and food processors.


When living overseas, finding the same readily available items may be difficult. You might want to stock up on the following list of coveted items for U.S. expatriates: peanut butter, baking powder, cleaning products, toilet paper, cereal, macaroni & cheese and antibacterial soap.
Most importantly, go through this experience with an open mind and expect things to be different - it's part of the charm!

Adapting to a New Culture

Adapting to a new culture is not easy. When you move abroad, especially when the culture is very different from your own, you will be frustrated. The best thing about living abroad and adapting to a new culture is what you make of it! It can be the best experience of your lifetime, or it can be unbearable and all you want to do  is go home. Living abroad and experiencing a different culture is an adventure and a challenge, and most likely the most exiting time of your life. You have to become independent and adjust to this new culture and all this without the support and help of your friends and family. This is quite a big change.

Do not assume anything and jump to conclusions!

When you move abroad, whether it is for an internship abroad, study abroad or because you found a great job abroad, it will be a big change in your life, and you should be prepared for this change and accept it. When I moved to China, I thought: Well, I have a lot of experience living abroad, living in China will be a piece of cake! I can tell you that: It wasn’t like that.

Every country and culture is different and just because you lived abroad before and liked it, does not guarantee that you will like it this time. You have to learn a lot of things from scratch, understand the culture and most importantly: stop making assumptions. This was my biggest mistake, when I moved to China. I just assumed, things would work out, because similar things had worked out in Germany and the US. But people have a different perspective and do things differently in other cultures.

The biggest lesson I learned while I lived in China was: There is not better way of doing things, it is just a different way.

Of course I was frustrated, when I tried to travel in China, but a few days before my departure, I found out that I could not buy a return ticket right away. Instead, I had to hope that there would be return tickets available at my destination. But to be honest, who am I to judge the efficiency of this? I only lived in China for 6 months, I barely scratched the top of understanding their culture. So I am definitely  not in a position to criticize their way of doing things, because I simply might not know the whole background of why they are doing it that way. So unless you have lived for a very long time in a certain culture, don’t judge the way things are done there. 

Adapting to a new culture requires a new level of open mindedness

Yes, of course you are open minded, otherwise you would hardly consider living abroad, right? But living abroad requires a whole new level of open mindedness. Especially, when you move to a country that has a very different culture, it will be hard to get the idea out of your head: “How can they be so stupid? If we do it my way, it just makes so much more sense and is easier, quicker and more efficient.” To overcome these thoughts, you have to be more open minded than ever before. I struggled with this quite a lot, when I lived in China. It is also very normal and I do not believe any person that has lived abroad and says he or she has not had that thought in their heads. The only way you can overcome this, is to remind yourself constantly. When you have a frustrating experience, like I had with my train tickets, calm down and remind yourself, that you should be open to other ways of doing things. After all, you are a guest and, you are the foreigner.

How would you like it, if somebody walks into your home, and tells you that everything you do just doesn’t make sense and is stupid?

Learn to work with the culture not against it!

Instead of working against the culture, you are much better off, when you try to find its strengths and how to get the best results, even if the method of achieving these results are different. Try out different ways of asking your colleagues or friends and see, which approach brings you your desired results. When you know, that your friends will always be at least 45 minutes late, tell them to be there half an hour before you get there. The same is true for working abroad and dealing with your colleagues. If you have a deadline, give them a deadline that is 3 days before, so you have enough buffer time, in case something goes wrong. Instead of just criticizing the way people do things, try to find solutions, how you can get them to achieve the results that you want.

When you are adapting to a new culture, always keep in mind that you can also learn a lot from the other cultures. Every culture has unique approach on solving problems, communicating or dealing with life in general, so who not use this to your advantage and learn from it? 

Have you lived in another country and experienced different cultures? Share your experience here. Or if you have any questions or problems adapting, let me know, and I will be happy to give you more advice!

Are you going on a trip soon? Then check out Skyscanner! I’ve saved so much on airfare since I use this site as my go to flight search engine!



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