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3 common myths that impede you from feeling at home in a different country

I came to Australia for the first time in January 2008. I was chasing my childhood dream of studying and living in a different country.

Soon after I arrived I was struggling to feel at home. I was confronted with cultural differences, I was feel homesick all the time, and constantly compared things between here and back home. I could not create the friendships that I wanted with locals.

When I look back, I can see I did all the wrong things through my adjustment. I had the wrong ideas about life in the new country. Went through a process and learned some lessons on things that hindered me.

The dictionary says a

“Myth is a widely held but false belief or idea.

Myths are persistent they can keep you bound to certain ideologies which then stop you to take the correct action towards the desired destination. Here are some myths that can impede you from feeling at home in the new country.

#1 Life in the new country will be always paradise.

I blame movies for this one. The idea is that because I am chasing an ideal plan or passion or relocating to a desired or convenient location everything will be fine. There will be no problems no challenges. Therefore, any challenge that rises makes us feel like an outsider in the new community.

Fact? Four classic stages take place when one relocates. They include honeymoon, culture shock, adjustment, and lastly cultural mastery. Expect challenges, especially during culture shock-unless you are a tourist who leaves before their honeymoon stage ends. These challenges include homesickness, loneliness, and culture shock.

Source: Oberg stages of cultural Transition

#2 They will make me feel at home.

This comes from our own views and expectations of how we should interact with others. We assume that everyone, all locals in the new country will make an effort to make me feel at home in the new country. As a result when that does not happen disappointment sets in and we gradually withdraw from that society.

Fact? Unfortunately, discrimination is still an issue in many places. Stop waiting for people to make you feel at home. Instead, take agency and make sure that you are doing whatever it takes to make yourself feel at home. Seek out help to get through the transition in the new country if you need.

#3 I am not a refugee and therefore I will be fine.

We tend to believe that refugees are the only social group of migrants who struggles to adjust to the new country. I acknowledge that most of them had to leave their country voluntarily while others don’t. Therefore, not having a humanitarian visa can make you feel like you don’t need to seek support in adjusting to a new country.

Fact? Cultural Transition happens to everyone regardless of the visa type. As Oberg says “Now when an individual enters a strange culture, all or most of these familiar cues are removed. He or she is like a fish out of water. No matter how broad-minded or full of goodwill you may be, a series of props have been knocked from under you, followed by a feeling of frustration and anxiety”. I came as an international student, by choice, but that did not protect me from the pain of cultural transition and adjustment.

At the end of the day, relocating to another country may bring joy, but it can also bring pain -just be mindful of these.

And if you are a migrant you are going to need help to adjust to a new country. I would love you to choose me to work with you.

Email: elsalicumba@gmail.com

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