Some Suggestions on How to Cope with Culture Shock:
- Be aware that culture shock affects all members of the family in different ways so be prepared to be involved as much as possible in children's schooling and social activities. Set aside time to discuss things as a family and talk about what things are like.
- Find out as much as you can about your new country beforehand. One of the best antidotes to culture shock - though when you're in the midst of it this may not make sense - is knowing as much as possible about where you are.
- Begin (if you haven't done so already) consciously to look for logical reasons behind everything in the new country/culture which seems strange, difficult, confusing, or threatening. Even if your "reason" is wrong, it will reinforce the positive attitude that in fact there is a logical explanation behind the things that you observe in the new country/culture. Take every aspect of your experience and look at it from the perspective of Australia. Find patterns and interrelationships. All the pieces fit together once you discover where they go. Relax your grip on your own culture a little in the process. There's no way you can lose it (any more than you can forget how to speak English), but letting go a bit may open up some unexpected avenues of understanding and personal growth. This personal growth is one of the profound gifts of immigration.
- Don't give in to the urge to criticize the new culture. Resist making snide jokes and comments which are intended to illustrate the stupidity of the "locals". Try not to associate with expats who do make them; they will only reinforce your unhappiness. Every local enclave has a number of people who have not been able to adjust to the new country and who sit around waiting for the next plane of expat greenhorns to arrive so they can indoctrinate them on the "stupidity of the locals". Avoid these people - their maladjusted coping mechanisms can only aggravate any culture shock you are going to experience.
- Identify a local national (a neighbour, a parent of someone in class with your children, a friend) who is sympathetic and understanding, and talk to that person about specific situations and your feelings related to them. Talking with expats is helpful but only to a limited extent. Your emphasis lies with your relationship to your new country.
- Focus on what you can control - people in culture shock often feel out of control. So, try to avoid worrying about things you cannot change.
- Don't invest major energy in minor problems - people make "mountains out of molehills" even more quickly in cross-cultural situations than they do in their own culture.
- Tackle major stressors head on - don't avoid things, ask for help.
- Create a wide support network as quickly as you can in your new country.
- Write it down - record your thoughts and frustrations in a journal. This will give you a healthy outlet for expressing your feelings and will be an invaluable record of your journey.
- Above all, have faith - in yourself, in the essential good will of your new countrymen, and in the positive outcome of the exciting experience.