Travelling and living abroad can be both exciting and daunting. Navigating a different culture can also be fraught with challenges. The language, norms and socially acceptable behaviour can take time to get used to.
The longer individuals live in a different culture the more the norms and values ‘rub off’ on them, especially if identification occurs That shows integration, and can be very rewarding. Some individuals however, may start to question their behaviours and aspects of their own culture and compare these traits to the culture they are living in.
This can be very daunting!
You see, some critics say that culture creates a way of blindness or ethnocentrism in that we view the things that are done without much thought as normal, and anything that does not conform as abnormal. This is what happens when we have been immersed in a different culture – we can view areas of that society’s way of life as abnormal.
How to cope and start to integrate
Open mindedness and self-introspection are key.
- Consider your behaviours and identify the ones that serve you at present in this particular culture and focus on using those e.g. saying good morning when entering a room of people for the first time, punctuality etc. This form of self-introspection is very revealing and can show you other areas where work needs to be done as these behaviours are a hindrance.
- Learn the other culture’s norms and values and hold fast to those you identify with e.g. BBQs in summer, weekend trips the countryside etc. Speak to individuals and be observant. You can learn a lot by listening and observing.
In this way, you are still being true to yourself but have made slight changes to your behaviours.
Looking within and being open to other possibilities are small powerful changes that allows freedom and enjoyment of where you are as well as personal growth.