Moving is hard, and sometimes it’s even harder to fight the negativity that comes with it. There’s nothing like being an expat when it comes to learning how to adjust to a new home. As someone who’s moved multiple times in her life, I’m pretty used to adapting to a new home. That’s why I thought moving to a new country was going to be a walk in the park. “Adventure” was my middle name, and this move was by no means my first rodeo.
Well, not only was I wrong about how easy moving would be, I was DAMN wrong. Moving to a new country was like moving cross-country but on steroids. Everything about being an expat was ten times harder than I’d ever experienced before. Luckily for me, I had good friends and mentors to guide me through the transitional culture shock. Now that I’ve moved cross-country again, I know how to fight New Home Negativity in a whole new way.
1) Know Where the Haters Are… And Avoid Them
Look, none of us is going to love where we are 100%. Every place has its problems, even the ones where we grew up. The issue is that, as an expat, it’s so much easier to get frustrated with a new country. “They don’t have my favorite brand of shampoo here? The nerve! This is clearly an inferior country!” While that statement may seem exaggerated to some, I promise you it’s not. Even if you’re moving to a new state, you’re bound to run into something like this (for me, it’s good steak… Oklahoma has West Virginia beat). But if you’re going to truly enjoy your new home, then you have to fight that negativity.
A little whining can be a positive experience. It can be a time when people share their solutions and assure each other that they’re not alone. However, there’s always going to be that group of people who are not going to be positive about this at all. The people who want to complain about their home, be it Istanbul or West Virginia, will always be there.
If you’re in a venerable place as someone going through culture shock, then you need to stay away from those people. Remember: culture shock will pass, and you will adjust. In the meantime, you need to be positive about your new home. The haters can hate… somewhere else.
2) Figure Out the “Why”
If something annoys the beejeebuz out of you, and is making it hard for you to adjust, then sometimes the best way of dealing with it is to figure out what it is. Why do the people in your new culture do this thing? Is it something that only applies to the individual, or is it something that applies to the whole area? Is there a history behind it? Whatever it is, I’ve found that the easiest way for me to deal with the new is to find out more about it. The more I know, the more I know how to react to it like a sane person.
3) Settle In
If you’re like me, then your room during the first couple of months in your new home is a bit of a mess. Sure you /kind of/ took your stuff out of your suitcase, but is it arranged to your liking? Take some of this frustrated energy and apply it towards organizing your things. Go out and get some decorations, or rearrange your space. You’ll feel much more at home when your room is clean and just the way you like it.
4) Get Adventurous
The hardest thing I had to adjust to when I move to Istanbul was the public transportation system. I would take the metro because it was faster, or I would ride in buses because it seemed the easiest. After a few months of doing the same thing over and over again, I got frustrated. Where was the sun? Why were buses so slow? I hated everything about my commute, and since it was a daily occurrence, it affected my mood a lot.
But instead of doing the same thing over and over again, I fought the negativity and started getting adventurous. I started taking trains, mini-buses, even the ferry boat on nice days. This variation in my commute improved my days, and my mood, considerably. So if something isn’t working for you in your new place, get adventurous. There has to be more than one way of doing things, right?
5) Find a Little Piece of Home
I don’t necessarily recommend hiding out in an outsider bubble, doing the same things as you would do back home. We should all be able to recognize that sometimes a slice of home is what we need to get through the next few days. I remember going with my friend to a German drug store, and she was so happy to see some of the familiar brands that she started to tear up. If you’re putting yourself under enough pressure that a bottle of shampoo makes you cry, then maybe you should give yourself some grace and find a little bit of home to give you some comfort. It’s the small things after all that can make or break your experience.
What are the Ways You’ve Learned to Adjust to Your New Home?
Whether you had to move to a brand new country or just moving away from your hometown, we all have stories about adjusting to new life. Let me know your stories and tips in the comments below!