When you move from one city to another, everything changes. When you move from your country to another, it changes even more. You have to get used to new rules, routines, and traditions. You may need to learn a new language or a dress code. However, I truly believe that it is very healthy to adopt all the “new stuff” like yours without ever forgetting your own. All of this an “adaptation” process.
Certain dates, events, or culinary dishes bring memories that can be painful or sad. Spending the holidays, or special occasions, away from home can be sorrowful. You miss your home, your family, your friends, your job; you miss everything. But this is the truth: if you are in that specific place, it is because it was meant to be that way. You may not understand the reasons now, but I am sure you will.
Leaving your country, your family, friends, possessions and all you were is not easy. Starting in zero is not easy. I am an immigrant myself, so I completely understand what immigrants go through. I also know that it is a process, a period of time that we can call adaptation and psychologists call “grief”. The clinical psychologist, Liora Schneider Mirmanas, explains that “grief is a psychological process that people go through when faced with a loss.” This loss is not only in “death”, but also in the loss of a job, a relationship, and/or a country. “The migrant griefs because he experiences the loss of his country, family, and friends”, adds. Understand the “differences” and changes As you and your family adjust, it helps to understand that each country is different and that each person is different, too. And, although it is very human to compare, it is not a good idea to do so. Flavor is in variety, says a Venezuelan saying. Therefore, understanding “different” is a smart move. During the grieving experienced in the new country, different emotional changes can occur, ranging from great sadness to deep euphoria. Everything is new and life changes completely. The adaptation process can often be challenging, and some people even go through the phases or stages of “culture shock”, an emotional and physical stress gone through when people move from country to country. Stages of culture shock 1. Honeymoon: you feel great euphoria, you want to learn and be part of everything. 2. Negotiation: the differences between the two countries become more evident. Schneider points out that this generates anxiety and frustration because we no longer have what we had, and concern because we do not feel familiar with the new environment. People may experience stomach pain, insomnia, muscle tension, fatigue, and/or headache. 3. Adaptation: a routine starts to develop. People feel more comfortable with the language, the traditions and create new ways of seeing and experiencing this new world, Liora points out. 4. Master phase: biculturalism is experienced. People distinguish the pros and cons of both countries and enjoy what the new country is giving them and what theirs gave. When people get here is already a great success! Tips to overcome the duel Liora Schneider lists nine points that will help overcome the emigrant's grief: 1. Accept that it is an adaptation process, and it is normal. 2. Be patient. 3. Surround yourself with familiar objects that make us feel that little piece that we leave behind. 4. Be in constant contact with family and friends from the country we have left. 5. Participate in activities and support groups that help us feel part of the new community. 6. Eat healthy. 7. Find available resources that allow us to integrate into the community. 8. Show openness and curiosity about the new country. 9. Have a sense of humor. Laugh at ourselves when we make mistakes instead of being frustrated. Additionally, from my own experience, I add the following: Turn the Page A very good friend once told me: It is very important to turn the page. Tuning the page means that you have to move on or keep moving forward. You cannot stand still, stuck in memories or “Ifs”. What does this mean? It means that you need to move towards your future and leave everything behind. You can choose to think: “if I had stayed”, “if I had gone to another country”, “if I had done things differently”, in this situation “If” does not help!
Is it easy? No. But you have to live and share, learn and teach. You have to be grateful for what you have now and where you are today. Learn & Adapt Be smart, learn from the adoptive land, its traditions, routines, rules, laws, ways of behavior, and never forget where you come from or your traditions, your special cuisine, your holidays, … Think about it this way: You will have enriched your knowledge of the world. Change what you think of as “bad” for GOOD! Overcoming duel following Liora´s tips, turning the page and moving on, learning and adopting will make you and your family happier, more productive, united and open-minded. It allows you to grow and help the loved ones you left behind. Give the best of yourself to the surrounding people, to your family here, and your family back home. Be a good representation of your country wherever you go, doing whatever you do. Do it right, do it well.