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About Everything Wiki » Author's Column » From "honeymoon" to biculturalism: what stages of adaptation have I experienced in a new country

From "honeymoon" to biculturalism: what stages of adaptation have I experienced in a new country

08 Jun 2023, 12:06, parser
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When moving to another country, a lot of questions pile up. We have to figure out how to rent an apartment, open an account, register an individual entrepreneur, buy a SIM card, make a residence permit. This is helped by people, instructions, chats, where the same guys are looking for answers.

But little is said about the adaptation that an emigrant goes through, although moving is painful and difficult. I have identified four stages that I have gone through myself, and I am sharing them with you. But surely this is not the end of the road.

Stage 1. Tourist

At first it seemed to me that my move was an adventure. I looked at everything with the gaze of a tourist and enjoyed the novelty. I was glad that it was snowing in Russia, and it was warm in a windbreaker in Tbilisi. I enjoyed the local cuisine and generous portions.

Later I found out that in psychology this is called a "honeymoon". At this stage, critical thinking is reduced. You don't fully understand the seriousness of the step, so you are euphoric.

According to my observations, a tourist fleur can last from several days to several months. It depends on how many new difficulties, cultural and everyday differences you encounter and how attached you are to home.

In order to smoothly prepare the psyche for the realization of "I'm here for a long time", I advise you to overcome difficulties in a dosed manner and use the art of small steps for this — every day for one thing. It's already difficult for you to get used to the new reality. The load of important and urgent cases will only aggravate everything.

Stage 2. From tourist to emigrant

Here the routine begins. At this stage, a struggle of ideas unfolded inside: "this is temporary" versus "I'm here, it seems, for a long time." I felt sad and lonely.

I no longer liked the apartment I had chosen as a temporary one. I made the decision to rent as a tourist: there is a bed, there is a table — well, fuck everything else. And now I suddenly realized that I'm here for a long time and need a place where it's nice and quiet.

Then I started looking for another place to live and surround myself with things that filled my life in Moscow.

For example, in a Moscow apartment I wore crocs. It stuck in my head: crocs = house. When they came to me in Tbilisi — it became much better.

I also began to panic that people around me were biased, that I was a stranger to them. Then I became convinced that this was not the case, and I am ashamed that I thought so. But then I couldn't get rid of such thoughts, all the time I was looking at myself from the outside and analyzing whether I was behaving respectfully enough, whether I was hurting someone.

At this stage, I recommend starting the socialization process to debunk disturbing thoughts. Make new acquaintances, learn basic phrases in the local language, integrate into events.

The more you gain support in the form of knowledge about how everything works here, positive feedback from locals, communication, the faster the difficult period will end. For example, I fit into a local Random Coffee and started going to networking dinners.

Depending on the speed of your socialization, you can "hang" in the second stage from several weeks to several months.

Stage 3. Reconciliation

I have had the experience of interacting with local residents, and I have dispelled my own misconceptions. I realized that no one is angry at me, does not look askance, people around are open and welcoming. I have overcome everyday and bureaucratic difficulties, the new housing has become safe and comfortable. At this stage, you let go of all fears, and it becomes good where you are.

The duration of this period is difficult to measure. It feels like it can become the ultimate for many people. The current place of residence will be expensive and pleasant for you, but it will not completely replace the house.

At this stage, you can congratulate yourself: all the most difficult things are over.

But the comparison with the old life will continue, and you will also miss some important components of it. This is normal, allow yourself to yearn. But at the same time, look around for new things that will make your life more pleasant and compensate for losses.

Stage 4. Biculturalism

I have partially reached this stage. The bottom line is that you get used to and are well-versed in local rules and traditions, you no longer compare what is happening with the past way of life. The first part is yes. The culture of Georgia has become clear and close to me.

I see its features, disadvantages and advantages. But I'm homesick in my mind. And this is another "rubber" period. As soon as I pass it, I will be able to sensibly assess which country I want to live in.

In the meantime, here are some tips for those who have recently left or are going to do it:

  • Do not demand feats from yourself. Slow down the pace of life and do as much as you can.
  • Accept that it is difficult now, but everyone goes through this stage — and you will pass.
  • Allow yourself to be sad and longing. Leaving your home, family and friends is both painful and scary. But that's okay.
  • Look for those who understand you, with whom you can grieve.
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