Resources: Notes on Life and Language in the United States

Cultural Transitions: What to Expect When you Move to the U.S.

Posted by Lindsay McMahon on Fri, Jun 24, 2011 @ 07:24 AM

cultural transitions suitcase and mapAre cultural transitions challenging for you?

If you have moved or are planning to move from your home country to the United States to study or for your job, you might be struggling with feelings of stress and anxiety but also excitement and a sense of anticipation!

To make this time of change easier, it's good to know what feelings to expect before, during and after your move.

How will you be feeling during the time "in between" homes- when you are no longer living in your home culture but you haven't quite adjusted to your new life in the United States?

 

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3 Stages of the Cultural Transition

cultural transitions Bridges Model

 

1. Leaving your Home Culture:packing for life abroad  cultural transition

When you find out that you will be moving to the United States, you might be really enthusiastic about the change.

You might start to imagine your new life in Boston or New York or another part of the U.S., think about learning English and about meeting new people or getting to know a new city.

You will be optimistic about your new life and you will start to disengage and maybe become bored with your old life in your home culture. 

 

 

neutral zone cultural transition people walking in rain2. Neutral Zone:

This is the most challenging part of the transition. You might feel a sense of emptiness, chaos and confusion or loneliness.

You will be exploring your new culture and your new city. Tasks that were simple in your home country, like opening a bank account might be really difficult and frustrating in New York or Boston.

At the same time, you are gaining a new perspective on life and you are seeing how people live in a new culture. So you are growing and stretching your limits!

 

This stage is important!

 

The key to success in your new life in the United States is getting comfortable with this awkward stage. At this point, you will want to build your cultural intelligence. Patience and a positive attitude will make a big difference at this stage.

Just remember, you might feel stressed but it will eventually pass and you will become a stronger and more interesting person after you have gone through the transition. I promise!

 

 

3. Beginning Life in Your New Culture:feeling good in new life in the united states

The final stage is beginning your new life in the United States.

At this point you will start to feel at home in your new city. You will regain your sense of motivation and clarity.

You will be able to understand yourself and your own feelings more clearly.

You will have an easier time focusing at work and you will be ready to get started on new projects (perhaps improving your English) in your new culture.

 

 

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Note: The transition model (diagram and concepts) discussed in this post are credited to William Bridges from his book, "Transitions: Making Sense of Life's Changes". The ideas have been applied to cultural transitions in this blog post.
 
 
 
 
 photo credit:  Nasser Nouri,    deepwarren,   Digitalnative


Topics: Advice for English Students, Daily Life in the US, United States Culture, Cultural Competence, Cross Cultural Coaching, Life in Boston, Life in New York

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