Remember the first few weeks in a foreign country? It was not that bad right. In fact, this sense of freedom was pretty awesome. Starting a new life where no one knows about our past behaviour hiccups, a new life where we could become who ever we want to be. Amazing, right? Or is it?
In the first few weeks we were pretty certain that we had made the best decision of our life. However, this feeling kind of subsides when we are faced with the reality of living in a different culture. Depending on where you come from of course, but still it is not easy for everyone to accept the culture differences.
For some, feelings of anger or the frustration with the idiocy of the new culture surface. The wonderment is at time overwhelming. Maybe it is our own frustration with ourselves. Maybe we underestimated our own ability to adjust.
It is extremely difficult to blend in a culture which we did not grow up in. Take couples for example. What one wouldn’t do for love, right? We move countries to be with our soulmates and we paint this picture of a perfect life in our head, where we live happily ever after.
It may not be all bad between the walls of our cosy flat. There we can be ourselves, do things our way. However, the reality of the living nightmare starts the moment we close the door to our home and try to socialize. As children we were taught how to do things, where to shop, how to ask for things, we were raised over many years to become a part of a certain society.
As adults living abroad, we are expected to learn everything within unreasonable period of time, including the new language. With the dream job offer comes a promise to support you for the few weeks of living abroad, our partners are convinced that with their support life abroad will not be hard. Well, in reality, it is us and us only who have to make things work. We have to come to terms with everything, learn how to “survive”.
I say survive because that is what it is for some time. It becomes a full time job to learn new language, to learn new ways of communication, to learn how things are done and dealt with in a foreign country. On top we are expected to have a job, to be partners, parents – you name it. Is this fair for one to go through?
Is it fair to expect our partners, friends or colleagues to teach us everything step by step as our parents would do? Certainly not. Can we do it on our own? Sure, however that involves self-discipline, will power and a lot of energy. What it also involves is deeper understanding of the culture and its differences in comparison to our own.
Part of my work with my clients is to make them understand and come to terms with the culture differences they face here in the Czech Republic. As with everything in life, the moment things start to make sense, we find them less threatening hence easier to accept.
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