If you find yourself wondering about what the future holds while preparing for your big departure, this article should help you ready yourself mentally for the big move.
But first of all, congratulations! You are about to take that not-so-small step in your life: a giant leap for your career.
You will soon land in a country of strangers and if, for example, you’re in Asia and you don’t come from an Asian background, you will be a very-visible minority. Once there, where will you go? What will you do? What will you eat? How will you get around? These questions are some of the challenges you will be faced with as soon as you clear customs to become a temporary resident of the country you’ve chosen.
Stay strong and be prepared to hit the ground running. If you have done your basic research and have all the proper information of your friends and/or employers, then initial concerns such as the ones mentioned above should be resolved fairly easily. But bigger and not as obvious challenges will soon follow.
Psychologists and career advisors tell us that people go through different emotional stages upon entering a new environment. The first of these is the “honeymoon” period, when pretty much everything is captivating and fascinating as your senses are overwhelmed with all the exciting newness around you.
Quickly following the honeymoon period is culture shock, when you realize everything you have been experiencing is, in fact, different from your way of doing things and you don’t quite fit in. Culture shock is what causes many to get depressed and even return home after only a short period at a great monetary and emotional expense.
If culture shock doesn’t affect you too negatively, then following it you can expect to reach a relative plateau where things are still new and different but you learn to find your place within those new surroundings.
A simple graph of this emotional journey would show an initial peak followed by a low and finally, a relatively flat line somewhere in the middle.
However, the length and strength of the emotional phases vary for each person, depending on the circumstances, preparation and personal attitude. Integration and assimilation are the best ways to minimize the effects of culture shock.
Make new friends, join sports clubs, take in the night life, hang out with your colleagues, learn their language, try the food, travel… don’t be an outsider for too long, join them and you’ll find that they can be very welcoming. At the end of it all, you will come out with a new perspective having experienced and embraced a different way of life.
Your future awaits!