- Created on Monday, 19 July 2010 01:00
It’s the easy things that we take for granted that trip us up when we move to another culture. Where do I buy aspirin? How do I make the phones work? You mean the stores close at 6pm? How am I expected to live?
It actuality, when we are in a cross-cultural transition it may take all day to just get the necessities done during the first few months. That comes as a surprise to many people. After all, the new country has cars and so does our own. The new country has grocery stores and so does ours. The new country has CNN and so does ours. Oh if it were only that simple! Think for a moment about all the differences from one country to the next: language, climate, foods, smells, houses, clothing… The list goes on and on and goes deeper and deeper. What about personal space? Expressing emotions? Body language?
Is it any wonder why we are exhausted from trying to just live each and every day for the first several months? If you think about it, learning culture takes place during childhood. Culture is what we learn as we grow up. It is what tells us what normal is. What we are now learning in this new culture does not always fit with what we know from our “own” culture. That is when the conflicts start. Guess who usually wins a cultural conflict? Definitely not the new guy!
So, relax. Give yourself permission to be a child for a while. Be curious. Be adventurous. Be willing to have a few growing pains. And certainly be patient with yourself in the process.