Expat Relocation – Problems with settling in

Common problems when settling into the city

Hong Kong, Shanghai, Bangkok or Tokyo are all bustling metropolises – full of energy, change and potential. But its unpredictability can be a source of frustration as well as excitement. On trips home, you can regale your friends with stories to feed their romantic notions of life in an international city, but all of this glitz and glamour can come at a cost. Besides the obvious issues of pollution, traffic, language and cultural barriers, there can be a subtle but damaging influence on one’s emotional health.

Adjustment

Being in a new culture can be very disorienting and stressful. It is not uncommon for people to experience culture shock, which can include feelings of unusually low mood, heightened anxiety or hatred for your new surroundings. These feelings generally dissipate once you have adapted, but it may take several months before these feelings go away and they may even return at unexpected times. 

Common problems when settling into the city

Full of energy, change and potential. But its unpredictability can be a source of frustration as well as excitement. On trips home, you can regale your friends with stories to feed their romantic notions of life in an international city, but all of this glitz and glamour can come at a cost. Besides the obvious issues of pollution, traffic, language and cultural barriers, there can be a subtle but damaging influence on one’s emotional health.

Adjustment

Being in a new culture can be very disorienting and stressful. It is not uncommon for people to experience culture shock, which can include feelings of unusually low mood, heightened anxiety or hatred for your new surroundings. These feelings generally dissipate once you have adapted, but it may take several months before these feelings go away and they may even return at unexpected times.

Anxiety

Living outside of familiar surroundings and comfort zones can raise issues of excessive worry or even panic for people who may never have characterized themselves as a “worrier”.

Depression

Issues such as lack of a support system and failed expectations – among others – can sometimes lead to low mood levels, lack of energy or motivation, unexplained physical problems and many other symptoms. These are warning signs that can lead to something dangerous if not adequately addressed.

Marital problems

Marital roles often shift, which creates stress in the marriage. Disparities in parental responsibility, long absences due to work travel or leaving behind a career are just a few of the many issues that a couple moving abroad may have to confront.

Behavioral issues 

Children also experience the stress of moving. They have to adapt to new surroundings, perhaps a different school system and a new language, try to make new friends, deal with what they have left behind and sometimes experience changes in the family. As a result children may act out in negative ways to express their internal confusion and turmoil.

No matter what you struggle with or experience the most important thing is to find others to help you through your difficulties and to understand your feelings. Trying to cope on your own and hoping that it goes away by itself usually only prolongs the problem. If you have any concerns, do not hesitate to seek a professional who can help you properly assess what it is you are dealing with and help you enjoy your life more fully.

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