How to Adjust to a New Culture

One of the biggest challenges you are likely to face in life is that of adjusting to a new culture. Like if, for instance, you have moved to another part of the world, and you are expected to be there for quite some time (say, several months or years), then you will have to adjust to that culture. You won’t necessarily be required to adopt the culture. But you will definitely find yourself having to adjust to it – because whether you like it or not, it is bound to affect you for the duration that you will be there. In fact, having been exposed to that (different) culture, your mindset is likely to change: meaning that the effects of that exposure to a different culture are likely to remain with you for long.

While trying to adjust to a new culture, you need to:

  1. Observe others closely: the goal here is to be able to figure out what is acceptable and what is unacceptable, by way of observing what your hosts are doing, and what they seem to be desisting from doing.
  2. Ask questions: some cultural aspects are so nuanced that you can’t understand them through observation alone. You have to ask questions. Don’t fear to ask questions. Actually this applies to all things – not just cultural issues. (Away from culture issues) you could, for instance, be trying to understand how you can report a lost gift card. Yet when you refer to the Mygiftcardsiteguide, you can’t get the relevant instructions. All the information on the guide seems to be about the check mygiftcardsite balancelogin and related issues. Yet what you are interested in is reporting a lost gift card. What to do? This is where it becomes ideal to ask a question. And the same thing applies when it comes to adjusting to a new culture: if you are unsure about something, there is absolutely no harm in asking your hosts about it. That is definitely better than making assumptions, and then you mess things up badly.
  3. Maintain an open mind: you will have an easier time adjusting to a new culture if you maintain an open mind. But if you approach the new culture with a prejudiced mind, you will have a very hard time adjusting to it. Your prejudices will keep you from adjusting, and you will end up being a maladjusted member of that society. Yet the society will expect you to have adjusted to its culture, after some time.
  4. Respect the culture: you may be tempted to disrespect/look down upon the culture, especially if, for some reason, you feel that it is ‘inferior’ to yours. This tends to be the case especially if you are moving from a part of the world that is perceived as being ‘developed’ to another one that is perceived as being less developed. But you need to resist this temptation to despise the culture. Remember, a culture is a people’s way of life. The people you are encountering have reasons as to why they have chosen to do things the way they do them. So you need to respect that way in which they have chosen to do things: knowing that it is probably the best way for them, given their unique circumstances.