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Navigating Culture Shock as a Gambian Expat Worker in Europe

24 Jul 2023


Being a Gambian expat, you must be going through culture shock, which is common for every foreigner. Roughly over 200,000 Gambians live abroad, most of whom work and earn in foreign countries to send money to Gambia for financial aid for their families. One thing all new expats have in common is that during their relocation process, they will all go through culture shock and adjustment. Moving abroad can be an exciting experience because you can expect to travel to new places, interact with new people, and try new things. But you might feel stressed because it can be a little bit overwhelming. 

What precisely is culture shock, and how can it be overcome to help someone adjust to a new environment? Let's examine the definition and progression of culture shock for expats. Additionally, we'll cover some of the best advice for foreigners on avoiding culture shock and adjusting to life in a new country more quickly.

A very normal part of moving somewhere new is culture shock, so keep that in mind. Read this guide about navigating culture shock as an expat to learn how to manage it and get the most out of your relocation.

 

7 Tips to Handle Culture Shock for Gambian Expats

Training For Relocation

For any expatriate and their family, relocation training is crucial, with a focus on preventing culture shock. Understanding culture shock and the stages of cultural acceptance and assimilation can greatly increase an expat's sense of control. It's possible to see the light at the end of the tunnel and keep things in perspective by realising that some feelings and behaviours are entirely normal and by learning the strategies required to manage the effects of culture shock.

Learn The Language

When it comes to culture shock, language barriers can be a major cause. Your sense of isolation and alienation may grow if you are unable to communicate with the locals. Consequently, learning the local vocabulary will make you feel more at home if you relocate to a country where the language is different from your own. You will feel more at home if you are able to communicate with the locals.

This doesn't imply that you must speak the language effortlessly the moment you land; simply picking up the fundamentals can help you make friends and become more at ease as you use the language more frequently.

Understand Cultural Norms

Understanding the cultural customs of your new country is just as important as learning the language. This entails being aware of social norms, workplace cultures, and even the legal system. When in doubt, ask questions and try to observe how people act in various situations.

Maintain Contact With Family

While it's important to acclimatise to your new culture, it's equally important to maintain ties to your native country. Keep in touch with your friends and family back home, observe holidays and other celebrations, and find ways to incorporate aspects of your home culture into your daily life. 

With today's technology, staying in touch with loved ones is simpler than ever, even if you are now thousands of miles away. A good illustration of this is social media. Letting your family or friends know how you're doing and vice versa could be as easy as posting a picture on Facebook or adding it to your Instagram story.

Ensure they are settling in as well, particularly if they are one of the 7% or 11% of people who move for their partner's job or education, respectively. They will experience different circumstances, particularly if they do not yet have employment. It's possible that you already know the language and have friends there. If you cannot bring them with you, make sure to continue supporting them by having your loved ones send money to Gambia online.

Make Connections

Making local friends is the best way to feel like a part of the neighbourhood, which is a big step in overcoming culture shock. Attending social gatherings, clubs, and events is a helpful strategy for achieving this. Although it may seem quite intimidating at first, if you jump in headfirst, you're sure to meet a variety of people who can assist you in adjusting to the cultural differences. Maybe even along the way, you'll make a friend for life.

Even when you are surrounded by your family, travelling to a foreign country alone can be isolating. Because of this, building relationships is crucial if you want to succeed as an expat. Along with making friends with locals, making pals with other foreigners can also make you feel more at home. 

Be Patient And Keep An Open Mind

It's also important to give yourself time to adjust to your new surroundings and to keep an open mind throughout the experience. Culture shock can be a chance for personal growth, even though it can be challenging. Try, as best you can, to be open to new things and willing to challenge yourself. There are some tips for Gambian expats that you must read once. 

Don't Believe Everything You Read Or See Online

Instead of heavily filtered Instagram accounts, for instance, look for realistic depictions of moving abroad and adjusting to a new culture. There are many excellent accounts of how expats deal with culture shock, including podcasts and YouTube videos.

You might feel uneasy in a new culture due to culture shock, but don't worry; this is completely normal. The emotions you experience should subside with time and as you become accustomed to your new culture. Furthermore, you'll pick up a lot of knowledge. And yes, if being a Gambian overseas worker, you are looking for the best ways to make an online money transfer to Gambia, then choose ACE. 

 

Bottom Line 

While all of these strategies can assist you in coping with and overcoming culture shock, maintaining an open mind and a positive outlook is most important. There will undoubtedly be cultural differences that, at first, may seem alarming or alien. Still, if you approach these differences with an open mind and a positive attitude, you'll benefit from them greatly. 

 

FAQs

What is culture shock, and why is it common for Gambian expat workers in Europe?

Culture shock refers to the disorientation and feelings of anxiety experienced when encountering a new culture that differs significantly from one's own. For Gambian expat workers in Europe, culture shock is common due to the vast cultural differences between Gambia and European countries. Language barriers, social norms, food, weather, and work practices can all contribute to the sense of disconnection and adjustment challenges.

How can Gambian expat workers prepare for culture shock before moving to Europe?

To prepare for culture shock, Gambian expat workers should engage in cross-cultural training and research their destination country's customs, traditions, and social norms. Learning basic phrases in the local language can also be helpful. Additionally, connecting with fellow Gambians who have experienced living in Europe and joining online expat communities can provide valuable insights and support.

What are some strategies for Gambian expat workers to cope with culture shock in Europe?

Coping strategies for culture shock include maintaining an open mind and a willingness to adapt to new situations. Engaging in local activities and events can help integrate into the community. Building friendships with locals and other expats can provide a support system. Seeking out familiar foods or restaurants can also provide comfort during the initial adjustment period.

How can Gambian expat workers overcome language barriers in Europe?

Overcoming language barriers requires patience and practice. Gambian expat workers can start by learning basic phrases and vocabulary commonly used in their daily interactions. Taking language classes or using language learning apps can be beneficial. Emphasising non-verbal communication, such as gestures and body language, can also aid in effective communication until language skills improve.

How long does culture shock typically last for Gambian expat workers in Europe?

The duration of culture shock varies for each individual, but it typically follows a pattern of four stages: honeymoon, negotiation, adjustment, and adaptation. The initial honeymoon phase may last a few weeks, during which everything seems exciting and new. The negotiation and adjustment phases can last several months to a year when challenges and frustrations arise. Finally, with time and effort, most expat workers reach the adaptation phase, where they become more comfortable and acclimated to European culture.


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