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Dealing with culture shock after corporate relocation


When transferring to a new city or country for a new job, many employees will face a very common issue. Although moving itself is pretty difficult, settling in an unfamiliar environment carries another challenge with it. Mainly, there are the usual obstacles of every move. Planning, organization, and budgeting are all tiring, yet necessary activities. But on top of all that, there is also dealing with culture shock. Depending on how far away you have to move for work, the environment drastically changes. For some, adapting to a new culture in their new surroundings can be difficult, and impede productivity. Our team at U.Santini Moving & Storage is happy to advise you on how to overcome culture shock! With our help, you’ll be able to adapt to your new living area and maintain excellent productivity and efficiency. We’ll explore what culture shock is exactly, and how to effectively overcome it.

Dealing with culture shock requires recognizing it

So what exactly is culture shock? Asking this question is perfectly valid if you’re either an employee or an employer. Relocating because of work is common, however, not everyone is impacted equally by culture shock. In essence, culture shock refers to feelings of unease, uncertainty, anxiety, and confusion that people may experience when moving to a new country, or experiencing a new culture or surroundings. These feelings are a perfectly normal part of the adjustment process. And as you’ve probably concluded, they stem from being in an unfamiliar environment.

As we’ve already mentioned, it occurs when people move to another city or country, for either retirement, life, or work necessities. But, it can also happen when going on a vacation or attending school abroad. All in all, it can be quite a stressful and anxiety-inducing experience. However, overcoming it and growing from it is possible.

man sitting at an airport
Relocating because of work is a unique and challenging experience

It is also worth noting that the adjustment period can be quite intense. This is especially true if the two locations are quite different. For example, you could move from a small rural area to a bustling metropolis with the help of movers NYC trusts. Usually, there is no single event that triggers culture shock. Nor does it occur suddenly and without reason.

It gradually builds up through a series of events, which is why culture shock can be difficult to identify when dealing with. The feeling of shock and unease can be quite intense at the start, and seemingly impossible to overcome. What is important, is to remember that it diminishes over time, as you become familiar with your new area. As a result, you navigate your surroundings easier, make more friends, and become more comfortable.

The 4 main stages of culture shock

As we’ve already mentioned, culture shock doesn’t happen suddenly. It is a long process and usually develops in stages. We will now go over a few common phases nearly everyone experiences. By understanding them, you’ll be able to easily recognize whether or not you yourself are dealing with culture shock.

The honeymoon stage is the calm before the storm

The initial stage is commonly referred to as the honeymoon phase. The reason for this is that people are usually thrilled about their new environment, and see the experience as an adventure. If your stay in a new area is brief, this excitement can define your entire experience. Because of this, you probably won’t even experience culture shock if you frequently move between places. Staying in one place for a longer period of time, however, is a different story. After a long-term relocation, the honeymoon phase eventually ends, and the struggles begin. Although people wish it would last longer, the next phase quickly arrives.

woman stressed out due to culture shock
Dealing with culture shock is hard at first, but don’t give up, it gets much better over time.

The frustration stage is the toughest when dealing with culture shock

As the initial glee of a new beginning wears off, people may become increasingly disorientated, or irritated. Fatigue gradually sets in, commonly caused by misunderstanding people’s actions, conversations, or customs. As a direct result, people become overwhelmed by a new culture, especially if there is a language barrier. Local habits become challenging, and what were once simple tasks now seem impossible, which leads to exhaustion. Our expert Brooklyn commercial movers observe this quite frequently during corporate moves. However, their advice is to stay diligent and strive to overcome culture shock. In this stage of culture shock, you may experience:

  • Frustration
  • Homesickness
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Feeling out of place

The prime source of frustration is usually the inability to properly communicate or interpret what others mean. This stage is indeed the hardest, and many people consider simply giving up, withdrawing, or moving back to their previous location. International students studying in the US, for example, struggle with culture shock a lot. Their feelings of anxiety and anger often lead them to withdraw from new friends. Some even experience eating and sleeping disorders as a result of stress, and even contemplate going back home earlier than planned.

The adaptation stage is a slow, yet fruitful process

As people start feeling more at home in their new surroundings, they slowly inch into the adaptation stage. The previous feelings of frustration slowly begin to subside as they adjust to their environment. It is important to note that this stage could last for quite some time, contrary to the honeymoon one. However, it is a step in the right direction and should be considered as a steady march to success. Although they still can’t fully understand certain cultural cues, people experiencing culture shock will become more familiar with the world around them. At least to the point where communicating becomes easier.

woman taking photographs
Explore your new surroundings and open up to them

The acceptance stage is a gateway to enjoying your new life

As the acceptance or recovery stage kicks in, people are able to better experience and enjoy their new home. Attitudes, beliefs, and expectations toward their surroundings improve, which leads to more self-confidence. Nearly all of the obstacles from the frustration stage will be resolved by now, allowing you to relax more, and be happier.

At this stage, you’re also able to experience full growth, as well as change your behavior and adopt manners from your new culture. It is also worth noting that even at this stage, the culture, beliefs, and attitudes may not be fully understood. But on the other hand, you might realize that full and absolute understanding isn’t necessary to thrive and do your best.

Effective ways of dealing with culture shock after a corporate move

Now that you understand how culture shock works and develops, you can take the necessary steps to effectively overcome it. The most important thing is to always be open-minded, and focus on the road ahead of you. Secondly, be mindful both in personal terms and in terms of those around you. You may not be the only one dealing with culture shock, so it is important to be considerate, and a good colleague. Our commercial movers NYC helped you reach your new location but now it is up to you to help both yourself and those around you succeed and thrive. Your coworkers are the people you share a majority of your day with, so it is important to show kindness and support to one another.

employees working in a group to overcome culture shock
Overcome culture shock by working as a team!

Group your workplace into teams to boost morale and cooperation

Adjusting to a new office environment is far from easy. Imagine entering a new office, and seeing a sea of unfamiliar faces. You simply wouldn’t know where to start. A majority of people don’t feel comfortable in the office after moving internationally from the US. The best way to overcome this is to find a way to beat the awkwardness of culture shock while maintaining efficiency, and productivity.

To make dealing with culture shock easier, try to form small teams inside the company, as much as the work structure allows it. Ideally, newly relocated employees should be grouped with native employees. Corporate relocations usually come with numerous queries related to cultural differences. You can ask your native colleagues for guidance on numerous cultural topics. Working closely with someone who already knows the area is an opportunity to gain insight into what living in the new area is all about.

Cultural training and knowledge sharing help in dealing with culture shock

Another great way to help everyone learn more about their coworkers and environment is to organize cultural training and workshops. Often, this type of training is mandatory in companies that transfer their employees. It is a very practical and effective way to help new employees ease into the new workplace, and overcome awkwardness. People moving overseas from NYC can be unfamiliar with their new place of work, and experience several cultural differences that startle them.

Enlisting newly transferred employees into such a program is equally important as any other professional training. The main focus of such a knowledge share should be making new employees learn about the culture and customers of the area. From laws to cultural respect and heritage, learning things about the foreign land will be beneficial to all involved.

office workers sharing lunch
Team lunches are a great way to socialize, learn, and relax

Frequent team lunches help in making acquaintances in a relaxed environment

Sometimes, it’s hard to deal with the work responsibilities, on top of dealing with culture shock. Taking a break from work and clearing one’s head is very important, and even encouraged. To combine relaxation, with cultural exchange, organize a team lunch for everyone in your company or team. This allows the employees to get to know each other, exchange information, and learn more about one another in a relaxed, casual setting.

Informally talking to your new office mates helps overcome awkwardness, and makes everyone in the group comfortable. Through lunches, team buildings, or social gatherings, the adjustment period will be much easier. It will also allow you to learn more about the new culture and community, without the constraints of the workplace. Soon enough, you’ll see that moving can improve your quality of life. And, on top of everything, you will forge new partnerships, and maybe even lifelong friendships.

Don’t forget to focus on your own growth while embracing the new culture

So far we’ve discussed overcoming culture shock in the workplace. However, it is equally important to tend to your own needs and mindset during this period. As we’ve already stated, adapting to your new place of living is a lengthy period, which requires dedication. With good habits and a diligent attitude, you can minimize the impact of culture shock, and speed up the recovery. The first step is to approach the new country and culture with an open mind, to better understand them. The best way to do so is by being active, and socializing with the locals. You can also keep a personal journal of your experiences, to help you reflect and learn as you go through the adaptation period. Lastly, be open and talk about your own cultural background with others. Communication runs both ways!

Final summation

If you’ve ever traveled abroad, or moved overseas, you may have already experienced a bout of culture shock. Things that people in other places take for granted, might be startling to an outsider. Just the same, local customs and habits the locals practice may be confusing and thus cause a “shock”. While this could put a damper on your corporate relocation, remember that the best way of dealing with culture shock is being open, honest, and diligent. There will certainly be many things that differ from back home. But as time passes, they’ll become more and more familiar, and you’ll eventually be able to call them your own.

These guys are TRUE PROFESSIONALS! We've now moved with them twice (once in 2017 and then again this week) and we really can't say enough good things about them. Simi is incredibly easy to work with for scheduling and quotes, and the crews - John, Super Mario, and everyone - are just awesome. They're quick, incredibly careful and conscientious, and super friendly. If we ever move again (and god I hope we don't have to) we're absolutely calling them.

Allison "Elnoods" N.

From Brooklyn, NY

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