Dealing With A New Culture
“Man’s mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions.” - Oliver Wendell Holmes
Some ideas are little and feel inconsequential but still create a change in circumstances. Other ideas are almost overwhelmingly huge but have an energy behind them that seems unstoppable and you almost feel like you’re just along for the ride. Thinking about relocating to another country (or already having done so) is one of those ideas. They are rarely taken lightly but nonetheless still have elements of uncertainty, shock and disbelief with it which brings confusion because you’ve created this idea - so why does it feel so confronting all of a sudden?
Moving to another country undoubtedly brings us both excitement and fear - often in equal portions. In all honesty, they are the same emotion; it’s what your mindset is doing at the time that determines whether you are currently feeling excited or fearful. It’s not a small change either. You are not just geographically moving location, your emotional support will change, as well as your social life and outlook on the way you live. There will also be a difference with financial aspects and there will be a need to find comfort in things that aren’t what you are used to.
I have lived, worked and breathed the cultural life of Britain, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand, with each having their own identity that I welcomed and enveloped as a part of myself. I loved living each of these cultures yet they all have uncertainties and difficulties to consider. Distance was a big one, especially from my family. One of toughest time was when a loved one became ill. I also missed out on all the family occasions, no matter how much I tried to convince them (and myself) that I was only a flight away, and however factual that was, it was still difficult to be able to fly over as often as I would have liked. Weather was another factor. I’m a little sunflower and feel happiest when the sun is shining, the sky is blue, and the birds are singing in the trees. I miss that aspect of it being right outside your door now that I have moved back to the UK.
Something that jumped out to me was that I hadn’t just been in those lands on a contract basis, I had become a member of those societies. I was still me but I had stretched. My comfort zone had grown. I had learned so much from living in different cultures. The cultures I lived had become a part of who I was. I still call a kettle a “jug” and still say “sweet as”. I still enjoy a “tinnie” and everyone is my “mate”. I absolutely love “the craic” as well as leek and potato soup with soda bread covered in lashings of butter. Despite living outside of Britain for over a decade, I still use Mancunian dialect and greet people with an “alright love”. Yet I am still me. My accent is all over the place but I love that because it reinforces the uniqueness that is me.
However, there are elements that remind you on a daily basis you are no longer in the culture you woke up thinking or wishing you were in. Chilly bins are unheard of here in Britain in comparison to New Zealand; there is very little need to wear a singlet as your core wardrobe in comparison to Australia; there is no need to rally around to the relatives to help bring wood home as fuel for the fire as they often do in Ireland. But I embrace all these differences. I don’t pack them away because I’m not physically in that culture. This is me, this is all of me, beautifully unique and I’ve learned to love it.
It is an ongoing process. You can no longer go back to how you were or who you were. That is the past. This is the present. If you decide to move to another country, or return back to your home country, you will always have those cultures in your heart. With that sometimes comes sadness, a feeling of loss, or again shock at not realising the impact it will have on you. It is a big decision. It does have an impact and consequences. It is important you feel as prepared as you can be - culture shock is a very real thing.
Get in touch with me. Let’s chat and make sure you are as prepared as you can be. Sometimes things that feel very daunting inside your head aren’t at all when you talk them through. Other things won’t have even crossed your mind. My job is to help you, so don’t be afraid to drop me a message.
© YMR Coaching & Development