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Moving to a different country on a long term basis for work can be stressful due to the culture shock and loneliness. Here is how to tackle it.
A job in USA amounts to ‘ultimate success achieved’ in the professional goals of many people. The world has become the workplace of every person as a large amount of people have started travelling away from their home country to various overseas locations and broaden their horizons.
While many people gain this experience soon after their salad days, many more have patiently bid their time before setting foot overseas. While the employed individual comes physically and mentally attuned to the upcoming transition, the accompanying families are usually oblivious to what lies in store for them.
Families usually comprise the spouse along with infants/toddlers/school aged kids. While newly-wed spouses make the cultural transition at their own pace, mothers experience extreme emotional turmoil combined with homesickness while they are struggling to acclimatize themselves along with their children to their new surroundings.
Food, Education, Weather, Language, Loneliness – these form the quintet of cultural hurdles faced by FOB (Fresh Off the Boat) families who have set foot on foreign soil for the first time. While most people claim that these issues are unavoidable, the reality is that the right amount of pre-travel research will make the transition process as smooth as silk for the entire family including children.
A change in environment and weather conditions is usually concurrent with a change in the food available for consumption. This is a very common hurdle especially for Indians who are travelling overseas for the first time. The Internet has made worldwide culinary information available at the click of a button and this should be utilized to understand the nature of food and ingredients available for cooking at the new location. This creates room to customize and improvise existing dietary habits to the new environment.
Families relocating overseas with school-age children face a huge question mark when it comes to finding and selecting the right schools for their children. Systems and standards of education differ in every country. It is imperative that parents gain an in-depth understanding of the education system at their destination once the travel plans have been finalized. This will aid the procurement of any essential documents regarding education currently received that are required to admit the child to a school in a new country.
Information regarding the health of the child including immunizations is usually a prerequisite for admission into any school overseas. Detailed information regarding various schools for different age groups is usually available online and this will make the process of finding an appropriate school for the child.
Most people are unaware of the prevailing weather conditions at their destination and hence they are ill-prepared to face them. This usually results in a temporary medical condition. The prudent solution would be to stay abreast of the prevailing weather conditions at your destination around a fortnight before your date of travel. Appropriate clothing for the weather should be packed.
Families travelling with children can get the appropriate advice from their pediatrician regarding basic medication and strategies to cope with minor medical issues faced upon arrival. The absence of any medical issues on arrival will enable a more enjoyable experience of the new environment.
While English is the universal language for communication in most countries, a difference in pronunciation, diction and intonation could make the process of communication seem cumbersome. A world of difference exists between British English and American English. This gap can be bridged through viewership of television programs or the everyday news on the appropriate channel. This creates a familiarity with the sounds and pronunciations and also provides an orientation on the colloquial usages specific to the geographical location.
People travelling to European countries can learn the basic phrases for common words like “Hello” and “thank you” and gain some familiarity using a phrase book until they have achieved a desired level of comfort with the specific language.
Overseas relocation means separation from the family as well as the familiarity of the home country. Although cultural diversity exists in almost every country, most people experience loneliness and melancholy when placed in a different geographical location that is miles away from home.
Social media like Facebook contains many online communities affiliated to various cultures and countries have helped people to smoothen the transition and ease the adjustment process. It is advisable to join a suitable community and find individuals and families who would be willing to act as mentors and provide a locational orientation as well as advice regarding finding housing, schools etc.
Once the quintet of hurdles have been overcome, a stint overseas can become an enjoyable and culturally enriching experience. Most people who have lived overseas even for a brief time period have confirmed that it has been one of the best experiences of their life. Bon Voyage!
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