Learning New Cultures and Traditions
One of the most frightening scenarios around is being in a strange place with no knowledge of where to go, or what to do. This is why if you are planning on relocating to a different country, you will want to become familiar with the local customs so you can assimilate yourself as seamlessly as possible. Many countries have customs that are drastically different from those in the United States and you do not want to find yourself in a situation that is offensive, or worse illegal, in the country you are now living in.
The obvious first place to look is the internet. There is a wealth of information you can find from both a government website, and message boards written by local people. You can find everything you need to know about their culture with just a little research, without having to leave your home. Government websites will have an accurate portrayal of customs that are practiced by the country you are moving to at large. These include holidays, ceremonies, and possibly even body language that translates to their culture, such as what they do in the place of handshakes. Local message boards will give you information that is more specific to the area you are moving to. As we all know, customs in the Southern portion of the United States are a lot different than customs in the Pacific Northwest. The same is probably true of the country that you are moving to, so you do not want to skip this step. Finally, a website from a consulate of the United States can further help you translate body language, and help give you an idea of regulations and security issues.
What to Look for
You might be wondering what specific things to look for when you are researching the culture of your new country, so you are fully prepared of what to expect when you arrive. As already stated, customs, traditions, and etiquette are very important, so you know what is considered offensive and what is socially acceptable. These types of customs are different from region to region, and you will not want to be an “ugly American” that does not know or respect another culture. To go along with that, you should find out what the common religion is in that area. Many customs and traditions are based on the religion of the region and this can help give you a better understanding of the place you are going. Another thing to look out for are gender roles. In many places, the gender roles are a lot different than in the United States, and are taken very seriously. While you may not agree with how gender is perceived, it is important that you understand what you are going to find when you get there. Another thing to look for is the local cuisine. You should absolutely know what kind of foods are available in your new area, because you may not like, or be allergic to, a major food source. This way you will be well prepared, and can plan accordingly.
While you will not be able to learn everything there is to know from the internet, and no amount of research will fully prepare you for what you will see when you arrive, doing this work will at least give you an idea of what to expect. Reducing your culture shock, and learning about your region will help you assimilate better and you will be able to make friends and converse with neighbors much easier than if you did no research whatsoever.