7 Tips for Adjusting in a New Environment as an Expat

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When you are in a new country and you know nothing of what you are going to experience, it can be scary and you may even feel a little lost. It is easy to start imagining possible, negative scenarios, which only serve to increase the stress of contemplating working abroad.

So be prepared. Prepare yourself by gathering information about the culture of your assigned country. This cannot be done by merely making assumptions in your mind; go out there and talk to people instead! If the person you talk to isn’t friendly or helpful, try again. Don’t stop because of one or two or three unfriendly encounters; there are millions more people to speak to!

One of the most destructive states of mind is to constantly compare the quality of life in your home country to that in the new assigned country. This only creates a lot of negative feelings and adds unnecessary stress. Accept the fact that there is going to be a whole list of differences between your home country and the country you are assigned to and live with it by making effort to make the best out of it. How? Continue reading…

You have probably come to realize that thinking about the worst of your new country isn’t helpful or healthy in any way. Develop a positive outlook over the challenges that you face. If things are not up to your expectations, you must adapt. Always remember that you are not here to make yourself unhappy and miserable, you are here to experience something new!

In every new experience, there are always things that you can learn and experiences that can help you grow and gain new perspectives. Whatever challenges that you face in this new setting, try to look on the bright side and ask yourself: what is the positive opportunity in this?

When living in a new country, networking can be a helpful and beneficial way to build a new support system to help you establish a connection. Networking is not just for sharing business resources; it is a healthy way to form social relationships too, as it enables you to feel connected and boosts your psychological well being and satisfaction. Networking opportunities can be found through such mediums as expat forums, magazines, social or sports clubs, toddler groups and social networking.

If you hold yourself back because you are afraid of the new cultural setting, you are limiting your life experiences. Be open and try new things; visit places you haven’t been; do what the locals do, or make local friends and learn from them.

Too nervous to talk to someone new? Try pretending that you are meeting one of your best friends; when you are with your best friends, you don’t think about what you should say, do you? Just be present and allow the conversation to flow naturally; people will feel your warmth and enthusiasm.

There are opportunities in almost every experience so be grateful for your assignment in a new cultural environment. Practicing gratitude is a way to keep your attitude and motivation upbeat, which will make you happier and, since emotions are contagious, you may make other people happy too!


More importantly, being grateful helps change your focus from the things you don’t have to the things that you do have. This helps keep your day productive and effective, and you may start to see things in a whole new light!

The best way to get the most out of being an expat is to be yourself and enjoy your stay. Savour every moment in your life, as the best gift is always the present moment.

By implementing some of these strategies, perhaps you can let go of unnecessary stress and begin living your life fully again.

Kate Lim works for Bethink Hypnotherapy in Solaris Mon’t Kiara

This article has been edited for Expat Go
Source: The Expat April 2012

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