Moving homes isn’t just a logistical headache; it’s also an emotional roller coaster, packaged in what people know as “culture shock.” Some people think that it only happens when you live abroad, miles away from your previous home. But you can very well experience it if the way of life in your new home is so vastly different from what you are used to. How do you prevent this uncomfortable feeling? The first step is to know what to expect. Watch out for these stages of culture shock as you settle in your next home:
The Honeymoon Stage
Contrary to what you might be thinking, culture shock starts as something really good. You step into this international community, and you’re in awe of its newness. You want to snap pictures of every corner of town. You find the snobbish people or slow-moving vehicles funny. You might even justify why public toilets are smelly. So you explore the area. Take the kids to the park. Shop at the local grocery and maybe spend an hour drinking the best-selling coffee in town. These fluttery feelings give you a security blanket so that you won’t feel out of your comfort zone right away. Seize this hyped-up emotional state. Jot down all the good in everything you see. Ask your spouse and kids about the things they discovered every time you gather for dinner. It can look petty, but you’re going to need these good reminders later in the next phase. Note that this honeymoon stage is only for a brief period. Eventually, it will transition to the next step, which isn’t exactly pleasant.
The Frustration Stage
When the fluttery feeling wears off, you’ll start to feel anxious and irritable. The littlest things, like the traffic jams near your office or the neighbors having parties at their backyard, can tick you off. Primarily, this is prompted by that sense of being out of place in this foreign environment. Maybe you’ve lost your way home a couple of times. Perhaps your fun-loving neighbors remind you of your old friends back in your old home. In the end, it can feel like you’re never going to be truly home. You might even regret relocating altogether. The good news is that you can reduce the unpleasant feels in this stage even before you move in. One, familiarize yourself with the new environment weeks before moving day. Know how to commute to and from your office. Greet your future neighbors in your visits. Another way is to make your home look like your former home. At least, strive for a bit of resemblance. This way, it won’t feel too foreign. So don’t discard all of the stuff in your old home. Consult professional long-distance moving companies about transporting them safely.
The Adjustment Stage
The uneasy feeling won’t last long. Eventually, you’ll get comfortable. You’ll find your groove. You’ll even establish a routine. At this stage, you’ll no longer feel frustrated at finding your way home or missing the bus; you’ll grow more forgiving of yourself, accepting that you’re adjusting and learning something new. You might even develop a liking for things that you weren’t comfortable before. When before you want to grab your coffee and dash off to your next destination, now you want to sit down and meet people just like the locals. When before you don’t like going to the subway and instead prefer taking a cab, now you can’t imagine not taking the train anymore. As you become more settled into your new home, don’t
neglect the importance of finding something new to discover so that you’ll fall in love with your place over and over again.
Overall, moving to a new home is an emotional journey. One moment, you’re on a high, curious about the new experiences you can have, and then you’re on a low the next, annoyed at every little thing. Prepare yourself for these stages of culture shock as you pack your stuff.