How to accelerate adaptation to a new culture: 12 tips from a life coach – Sojoourn

Updated: Aug 15, 2019

As a result of my own experience, of contacts with expats couples and of studying this

subject, I’ve found out that there are lots of things that one could do to succeed

the three first months of relocation (to another region or another country).

The very first thing is to create a vision. Independent of the elements that every person

will place in it, it should have one single goal: to live well within the new boundaries.

Without WANTING to make it come true, it will be pretty hard to leave the past behind

and to create a satisfying life.

Some (or many) of the points below could be useful:

1. Learn the language basics as fast as you can.

As a person with hearing loss could become isolated from the world, the lack of a minimum of the local language use could do the same to you. Do not be ashamed if you do not dominate the local language. If there is something that makes foreigners happy is when they notice that you are trying to communicate using their language. People use to be very kind when they see you are making an effort. Besides that, if you do not practice daily, you’ll not reach fluency.

2. Walk around the city.

Go to the local market, try a new piece of cloth (even if you’re not sure you’ll buy it), go to the post office, to the bank, spend some time in a nice public garden. As you observe the use, and attitudes of the population and you start to have some interactions, little by little, you begin to understand better how everything works.

3. Make a lot of questions.

On your way to somewhere, ask directions, ask what you should do to obtain the loyalty card of a store or how to prepare a recipe of a vegetable you had never seen before. These interactions help to increase your vocabulary, and you may get to know nice people along the day.

4. Check for expats groups.

There are plenty of them around the world. They are the primary source of information, once they have already gone through the transition period and know many of the findings and difficulties of this phase. But pay attention not to fall into the trap of ignoring the local language and start using only yours.

5. Have a look at a relocation agency.

If your family could count on the services of a relocation agency, check if the package offered includes cultural learning sessions, site-seeing tours, coaching meetings for the family members (especially you) and others services for your integration.

6. Hire some household help.

If you need to. It’s worthless trying to do everything by yourself. Many cities count on service providers that offer items like house cleaning, baby-sitting, home appliances fixing, seniors’ assistance, etc.

7. Do some volunteering.

Volunteer jobs create bonds with the community and make you feel useful.

8. As you get to know people, invite them for a coffee (at home or a coffee shop).

The exchange of information and experiences create support relationships and, perhaps, even a long-term friendship.

9. Be sure you are communicating well at home.

Are you feeling lonely or anxious? Evaluate to share your feelings with your children or your husband. Let them know what you would like them to do so they could help you to go through this period in a faster way. If you do it objectively and positively, they probably will not feel guilty or worried. Hiding your feelings at this moment is very unproductive once they could grow and blow up sometimes.

10. Promote yourself.

If you are allowed to work in the new country, plan your networking process. In many states, it is common to find part-time jobs, if you prefer this way. Evaluate hiring a career coaching service if you want to accelerate your job transition and your networking.

11. Develop interests.

Dedicate some time to nurture new interests, like hobbies, volunteer actions, studies or any other activities that please you and allow you to produce something. This creates purpose and a sense of utility.

12. And last, but not least: never, ever try to replicate the home you had before.

This is impossible once the conditions are now different (and it does not mean they are worse). The fastest you accept that many things will be different the fastest you will be opened to welcome better the new situations that will arrive. Who gets stuck in trying to reproduce the former life suffers, and lose many opportunities to evolve and create a beautiful new life.

About Stela

Stela is an executive coach with coursework certified by the International Coach Federation (ICF). She is also certified in the use of the Enneagram – a great personality study, by The Enneagram in Business institute.

She works with coaches of different levels of hierarchy, with leadership and career coaching. She provides expertise to expatriates and spouses, supporting them in their transition period (she has a personal experience of expatriation too). She is also specialized in retirement coaching and how to best plan your retirement to continue to feel productive and active over the years.

As she is fluent in English, French, Italian,

Spanish and Portuguese, she coaches individuals from different countries. Before she becomes a coach, she worked as a Branding/Marketing senior executive in multinational companies for many years, having the opportunity to be in direct contact with teams in countries like China, Slovakia, Italy, Mexico, Peru, and the United States. She lived in Turin for two years, and she is currently living in France, where she is a volunteer coach in two associations linked to the business world.

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