Living in a Foreign Country: How to Adapt?iStockphoto
Alas, living in a foreign country is not always this carefree.
While living in a foreign country sounds exciting and romantic, it does have a catch. When expats tread on unfamiliar ground, they tend to stick to what is familiar. Thus, many expatriates living in a foreign country never make the transition from expat to compatriot. After all, becoming a part of the local culture is probably the hardest part of living in a foreign country.
It is tempting to share your experiences of living in a foreign country exclusively with other expats. Nobody else will understand your hesitation to try the local food, your problems with adjusting to the pace of life and your ambivalence towards social customs as well as those living in a foreign country like you.
Living in a Foreign Country: From Expat to Compatriot
However, in order to get the best out of your expat experience, you need to break out of your comfortable little cocoon after a while and try to immerse yourself in the local culture. If you let go of false impressions and negative stereotypes, then you have already taken the first major step. That way, living in a foreign country can become a truly life-altering experience.
It is not as easy as it seems to adjust to living in a foreign country. The process of making the transition from living like an expat to a more local life-style takes time. Culture shock is part and parcel of living abroad and hits all of us eventually. The trick is not to let it get the better of you. After all, it takes some time for all international travelers and expats to get used to their new environment.
Living in a Foreign Country: The Charm Wears Off
For most people who are living in a foreign country, many aspects of the local culture seem strange at best. This might appear exciting at first. The initial reason for living in a foreign country is often the wish to explore foreign cultures.
However, after living in a foreign country for a while, little things that you initially considered charming may begin to annoy you. You will remember how everything ran on schedule back home, how clean your former hometown was, or how much more relaxed and friendly everyone seemed.
Living in a Foreign Country: Embrace the Little Quirks
Everybody who decides on living in a foreign country needs some time to adjust to their new environment. Lina (32) felt that way when she moved from Sweden to Ecuador. Everything seemed different from her home town Gothenborg, and after the burst of initial excitement, it started to get to her. After a while, she began to accept that things were simply not the same in Quito.
At some point I started to embrace the little quirks. Some of them even became amusing after a while, like Ecuadorian driving habits or my new friends always arriving 45 minutes late for dinner invitations.
Until you get to this point, try to be respectful, patient, and humble. After all, you are a guest living in a foreign country, at least until you have made the transition from expat to compatriot.