After the initial excitement of being in a new place, the thrill of learning a new language has turns into an insurmountable barrier; basic things like banking and transport are endlessly frustrating and you would give your right arm for a bowl of Frosted Flakes.
Battling culture shock is difficult, especially if you have moved somewhere on your own but there are many things you can do to make it easier. One of these simplest things to do is get into contact the ex-pat community in your area. If you’ve moved to a place where English is not widely spoken, having a cup of tea and a chat without having to struggle to communicate can make a world of difference. Other ex-pats will also be able to advise about things like opening a bank account, where to locate your favourite foods, interesting things to do around town and other organizations that may be of interest to you. Most of all, they have all suffered through culture shock and will be able to give you tips on how to handle it. It is important however, not to rely completely on ex-pats for your socialisation, since part of the reason you bothered to move in the first place was to learn about a new culture.
When you move to a new place, it is also important to be realistic with your expectations. In general, it takes about six months to get completely settled in a new place. Figuring out how things work, establishing a social network and even simple things like finding your favourite brand of dish soap or which kind of toilet paper is best, take a long time.
You will find yourself pining for things that you never thought of while you were living in Canada. Even though you never gave much thought to Peter Mansbridge while watching CBC news, hearing his voice on a live web cast can make you very nostalgic. Listening to an online version of your favourite Canadian radio station can be very soothing as well.
It is also important that you be active in adopting your new culture, as this will help you feel less like a foreigner. If it is common for most people to go to the market everyday, you should too. Not only will it help you understand the culture better, it will be a place to meet people from your neighbourhood.
People are usually as interested in learning about Canadian culture as you are in learning about theirs. So, when October rolls around, invite people over for Thanksgiving dinner complete with all the trimmings or cook up some pancakes and maple syrup for a casual Sunday brunch. You can tell them why Thanksgiving is celebrated or explain how maple syrup is made and your guests can share some stories about their own traditions and delicacies.
Moving to a new country can be quite overwhelming at times and sometimes you will wonder why you ever left the land of Ron & Don but without a doubt, living abroad will be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life. You’ll laugh and cry like you never have before and meet some lovely people along the way.