Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Moving? Try the ADVENTURE Method of Adapting!

I just wrote this entry for fun and to explore how I really adapted to moving around so much for the past twenty-five years! (Actually, I think it was probably more difficult to adapt to moving back to my hometown here in PA! We're talking "reverse culture shock" here!).

Having successfully settled in six US cities as well as in five continents abroad, I recommend the "ADVENTURE" method of adapting. It's easy to remember and fun to do. Best of all, you really get to know your new environment!

For future references, you can find this information on a brochure at any Department of Defense (DOD) military installation and your local public library when I market it. For easy reference, ask for The Adventure Method of Adapting to New Cities, Cultures and Countries.

Okay, ready? Let's get started!

A: ASK lots of questions about your host country (preferably before arriving!). Ask people who have lived there before, check business contacts (your new employer might have a 'buddy' system in place in which you've been assigned a specific person to help you adjust) and email makes it easy to contact them ahead of time.

D: DARE yourself to step out of the routine to make new acquaintances. Push yourself. No one else is going to. Don't wait for someone to welcome you. Seek people out, and you'll be glad you did.

V: VISIT one or more places once a week (perhaps a nearby place in the area where you live-a restaurant, museum, or try to seek out a new sports or culural event to observe. This is a great way for families to discover their new environment together! Or, you might want to visit a nearby town or city, say, once a month.

E: EXPRESS what you're feeling and seeing. I kept a journal. Others might want to record their feelings on tape, talk to a friend or relative in their home country via one of the inexpensive computer software cameras. The most important thing is to share your feelings (good, bad, bewildered, angry even) so as not to isolate yourself as you're trying to adapt.

N: NOD a lot. Some people might not agree with this step. They might think it makes them look silly. In that case, feel free to leave this step out! But many times when I wasn't sure of how to respond, I merely smiled and nodded politely. I never offended anyone; people smiled back and I soon learned what I needed to know by watching others.

T: TASTE new foods! Go ahead. The bigger risk-takers can go for the sushi, 1,000 year-old eggs, or octopus while the more timid can merely try a new noodle, or a local variation of a meat cutlet.

U: UNDERSTAND Culture Shock! Get a book on it, look it up on the Internet, attend a lecture, whatever. If you're planning to live in a country for any extended length of time, you'll be going through various phases of adapting and if you don't understand what it is you're feeling and why, you might start to feel alienated from your host culture for things you [or they] have no control over.

R: REMOVE cultural baggage. For example, stop thinking that your (or your country's) way is the best way to do something. It might be better or faster, but what works is what occurs in the host culture. So, it's better to figure out how the system works and work within that framework because anything else just ain't gonna happen. It's only going to frustrate you more. Relax, enjoy the local methods. That will help you to start identifying with the local population as well. Or at least make for a good story!

E: ENGAGE in new activities. For example, if you normally play American football, perhaps you can join a group of "futbal" or soccer players. Don't just watch a cultural celebration -- be part of it. This isn't only for outgoing people. I consider myself quite shy but in a small group, I learned several folk dances, how to use chopsticks, how to get around on local transport, and I explored.

Well, there you have it, readers, the Adventure Method of Adapting to New Cities, Cultures and Countries. This was helpful not only when I moved abroad but when I relocated in other American cities. San Antonio is as different from little ol' Girard as being in a foreign country! Corvallis, Oregon was also completely different. Whether it's a short move or a permanent relocation, the Adventure Method will serve you well.

Good luck in your moves, everyone, whether it's national or international, and let me know what adventures you encounter in your new positive locales!

No comments:

Post a Comment