Cope with Cultural Shock in the UK
What is cultural shock?
Culture shock is the feeling of loneliness, insecurity or confusion that can occur to you when you move to a new country. If you have just immigrated to the UK and you feel the first symptoms, read on for specific tips and advice of how to cope with culture shock in the UK.
Familiarise yourself with the concept of culture shock and accept it as normal. Bear in mind that most people went through this process when they first arrived in the UK, whether it was a long and intense period or a short period of time consisting of a few days. This will help you realise that what you are going through is temporary. Discuss how you feel with other immigrants. You will find plenty of people who are going through the same, especially if you live in a multi-cultural city, such as London or Leicester.
Make friends with the British
Don't hesitate to try to make friends with the locals. Having friends in your host country will make you feel like home. Join the gym or classes you are interested in. Apart from a great opportunity to meet people with similar interests, this will reduce your stress levels. Most English Universities have Societies with different interests; if you are a student, identify them and become a member. Avoid inviting new friends or colleagues to your home. They may be unwilling to enter the house of a person they don't know very well. Instead, invite them for a drink at the local pub.
There are so many stereotypes about the British and most of them are not true. Try to forget all about them if you want to integrate fast. The fewer stereotypes you have, the shorter the culture shock will last, as you will realise that, beneath the surface, everyone is the same. Even if you have had a negative experience, try not to generalise.
Learn the language
If English is not your first language, you may find it difficult to understand what people say and communicate with them. Take English classes before and/or after you move to the UK. Take every opportunity to speak with the locals. Do not be over-concerned about your foreign accent or the mistakes you might make in grammar. At this stage, the important thing is for you to become more confident when using your English. Most British people will appreciate your effort to learn their language.
Keep in contact with your roots
By all means keep in close contact with your friends and family back home. Thanks to Skype and the various networking sites, this is really easy. If you live in a big city, such as London, find convenience stores, restaurants and bakeries with products from your country. If you are religious, find out where you can practise your religion. Find the neighbourhood where people from your country usually live and consider renting a home in this neighbourhood. When you are in Britain, you will have plenty of opportunities to interact with British people; it will be nice, though, if you also find people from your own country to hang out with.
How excited are you about moving to the UK?
Before you move to the UK, examine your motives, as the intensity of culture shock will largely depend on them. Do you really want to move to the UK, or are you just doing it because your partner has been offered a good job here or your parents want you to study in an English university? Many people who fall under the second category never really integrate as they are only waiting for the day they will be able to return to their countries. However, if you really want to meet new people and you think that living in a foreign country is an exciting experience, you have taken the first step towards overcoming culture shock.