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Building Cultural Awareness with Lisa Velázquez

Feature Article: Relocation – Five Strategies for a Successful Adjustment to a New Culture

By Lisa Velázquez, Cultural Transition Coach

Do you ever wonder why some people are more successful than others in adjusting to a new culture?

Here are five strategies that will help you to make your cross-cultural experience a success.

One - Begin with the End in Mind

Close your eyes and imagine you have already mastered your biggest current obstacle or have been able to adjust fully to your new culture. How would you like to characterize your experience? What have you learned? What insights have you gained? What adventures have you had in the new country? Be as detailed as you can.

Two - Be Proactive

Now, that you have a detailed picture in mind of your journey to a successful cross-cultural experience, examine where you are today. What’s missing from this picture? What one action could you take today to start filling in this picture? Always keep your vision in mind and take one proactive step at a time.

Three - Be Open-Minded

Be genuinely curious about your new environment. Develop an attitude of wanting to know how things work in the new country, how people interact. Make an effort to learn the language and interact with locals. Become your own cultural expert. Compare your own culture with the new culture. What differences do you see? How do you react to these differences? Do you react negatively to any of these differences? Be aware that by comparing both cultures, you have the unique opportunity to learn about two different yet both valid approaches to similar issues. By paying close attention to your personal reactions to these differences your will gain self-knowledge and can decide what fits best for you.

Four - Be Tolerant

Make a conscious commitment to respect yourself and your new environment at all times. Treat yourself as you would treat a dear friend - with patience and understanding.  It takes time to adjust to a new environment. Acknowledge different emotions as they come and trust that they will pass and change.
Show respect to your new environment by acknowledging differences without judging them as good or bad – just notice.

Five - Be Grateful

Find a quiet corner and make a list of things you are grateful for. Make it a daily exercise. Start a gratefulness journal. Especially on days where you feel discouraged or frustrated take some time out and search for at least one reason to be grateful for. Making a conscious effort to be thankful will show you how valuable your cross-cultural experience is.

If you implement these strategies consistently you will not only become more successful in adjusting to the new culture but also in your personal life.

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Lisa Velazquez is a certified personal coach specializing in Cultural Transition who helps individuals and families adjust to a new culture through one-on-one coaching, group coaching, and presentations on cultural topics to interested groups. For more information visit www.lisavel.com and sign up for your free "Three Simple Techniques for a Successful Adjustment to a New Culture" PDF and for the free monthly newsletter "Building Cultural Awareness".

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