Difficulties for Immigrants in the US & How to Overcome the Challenges

Being an immigrant is a life-changing challenge. I have been living in America but originally I came from Russia. I would like to share some ideas on how to overcome cultural shock when you move to a different country. You can't really avoid the cultural shock because it's the natural way of adapting to the new culture but you can help yourself not to get into any type of depression. 

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There are four stages of cultural adaptation:

  • Stage # 1 is a honeymoon when you feel happy. All the culture, the people and food - everything seems to be great and you think that the decision to move to this country was the best decision you have ever made. 
  • Stage #2 is a rejection stage. It could be the most difficult of all your experiences living abroad. Lots of miscommunication is happening in terms of the language and the gestures that people use. You can get very frustrated.
  • Stage #3 is the adjustment stage. It's when you already feel more familiar, more comfortable with people, with the culture. You navigate around the city, you have some friends or colleagues, so you suddenly feel like you are fitting in.
  • The final stage can be after several weeks or months or even years going through different emotional changes and stages.
Here are a few tips how to cope with culture shock:
  • Tip #1 - learn as much as you can about the history, about the culture, about traditions, so it will be much easier for you to understand people, what motivates them and how they live.
  • Tip #2 - start learning the language because it would be much easier for you to integrate.
  • Tip #3 - Seek out guidance from other international students and ask your new friends where to go, e.g where to do the laundry - anything that would be helpful for you. 
  • Tip #4 - Get active. Go out there, do something active. If you like dancing - dance, if you like walking - walk. Just get your body moving, so you can release happy hormones.
  • Tip #5 is to stay in touch with your family and friends at home. It's very important to keep connections. It will cheer you up and you will not feel lonely.
  • Tip #6 - integrate into the community; it could be based on your interests or hobbies. It is easier for you to establish new connections in a new place.
  • Tip #7 - travel around the country. You may go somewhere else outside your state just for a weekend.
  • Tip #8 is keeping a diary. Later on it would be interesting to remember all memories from that time. It's good to overcome all the anxiety if you share that on paper.
  • And the last tip is to be open to new things and people because none of us are perfect and we are all coming from different backgrounds and different cultures. 

So enjoy the moment and let yourself explore. 


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