So, you are moving overseas, embarking on an adventure in a new country that includes a new job, a new home and a new environment for you and your family to thrive in. But overseas moves present very specific challenges that can sometimes catch you off guard.
Culture shock is something that everyone who spends an extended period of time living overseas experiences. It has nothing to do with packing, and little to do with checklists, but unless you are prepared for it, it really has the potential to ruin the entire experience.
So, to help ease the transition for you, we have put together a shortlist of the 5 main culture shocks you are likely to face upon your arrival, and as you try to settle into your new surrounds.
5 Culture Shocks You Need To Prepare For:
- The Language – If you are making the move to a non-English speaking country, this is an obvious place to start. It’s not just about conversations. Everything from road signs to popular media to – and this was a big one for me – restaurant menus are going to be in a language unfamiliar to you. If you’ve got time to learn some of the basics before you leave, do it. Of course, you’re not going to become fluent but using just a few phrases in the native tongue will go a long way.Simple starter phrases include “Thank You”, “Please” and “Hello”, while simple sentences and questions beginning with “Where is…?”, “Can you help me?”, “Do you know where/what…?” are very useful. Tourist phrase books are essential tools, while Fodor’s offers some worthwhile language aids to download. And of course, there’s the ever-popular Rosetta Stone.
- Personal Interaction – We all think we get on fine with others, but how people interact can differ greatly between countries. For example, the English are often seen as being cold towards strangers, when in fact they’re simply exhibiting the famous “stiff upper lip.” In Japan, folding your arms while speaking to a senior colleague is about as rude as you can get. These subtle interactions are central to how a society works, so avoiding locals and clinging to fellow expats is probably the worst thing you can do. The only really way to learn is to interact – just be prepared to listen and learn.
- Social Faux Pas – Every culture has its do’s and don’ts, and you’d be surprised with what are considered faux pas in different countries – especially at work. In Canada, blood boils when people jump lines, but in many Asian countries, lines are often completely ignored. In Italy, expect disdain from restaurant staff if you request a doggy bag. In the Republic of Ireland, never refer to the country as part of the British Isles. The range is quite extensive, of course, and much depends on the regions within a country, but some cultural research will give you a good chance of successfully negotiating the minefield.
- Connectivity – Just because downtown Toronto sometimes seems to have wall-to-wall Wi-Fi does not mean every other country has it. Different countries have different standards in Internet service, and have varying connection methods (wireless, broadband, DSL, ISDN and cable). Not only that, but costs, download speeds and service bureaucracy can all differ greatly too. It’s hard to understate the importance of an internet connection for keeping in touch with friends, family, employees and clients, but also for doing research on your new home and finding your way around. It’s easy to forget how much we rely on Google Maps!
- Check out the internet services and costs in the country you’re moving to.
- Set up an email address accessible from any computer (like Gmail).
- Don’t change your cell phone immediately after your overseas move. See if you can configure it to the local system or use international roaming until you get sorted out.
- Check the electrical voltage and outlet style in your new country, and get adaptors so you can charge your laptop or phone.
- Banking System – You are going to need a working bank account as soon as possible. Your new employers may help you set an account up, but when it comes to everyday services, you may find things more difficult than expected. There are lots of banks operating internationally (like Citibank, HSBC). That can help to smooth over issues like transferring funds, but opening an account with a local bank gives you local ATM and credit cards, keeping fees low.
Research and Prepare
To learn more about cultural difficulties when living abroad, and how best to overcome them, expat websites and blogs are very useful. The communities that frequent them can offer a huge amount of advice specific to the city, region or country you are moving to, and you can begin to build a network of contact to meet with when you arrive.
Googling the specific topics, like local banks, local internet services and charges, and local social activities is also a good move. Then, when your move is complete, you are better prepared to cope with the culture shock.
About Viktoria Professional Movers Toronto
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