There's no doubt that adjusting to life in a new country is a challenge and a steep learning curve for most people.
Moving to a different country can be very scary. Fear, anxiety and other negative feelings may approach you, but fear not, every migrant goes through this and it does get easier. By learning from others' experiences, you may be able to ease the pressure and clear up any unanswered questions.
Stages of settling in
Relocating to a new country is one of life's biggest experiences. Quite often, most people go through several emotional stages as they settle in and start a new life abroad.
Your bags are packed, your visa is sorted, and you've been preparing for months on end for the move. Amongst the anticipation, you're really excited and can't wait to start your life in a new environment. Feeling good is usually the emotional state one would experience during this stage, and fair enough! All the efforts leading up to this moment are finally paying off and you feel terrific.
Initial settlement stage
The plane doors open, you smell the crisp, fresh New Zealand air, and you take your first monumental step off that plane. You've finally arrived in New Zealand and have begun your journey as a new migrant. The first several months are often filled with joy, happiness and everything in between.
You've finally made it.
But somehow, as time and months go by, you start to get used to these feelings and you start noticing that some of the things you were used to at home are not necessarily the same as they are in New Zealand. Whether it be the change of environment, culture or lifestyle; there's something that's holding you back. During this time, you may be feeling overwhelmed by the changes you are going through, such as cultural shifts, which weigh down your happiness and cause you to worry a little bit. You start to question whether you've made the right decision for yourself (and your loved ones) and begin reflecting on your experiences so far.
Sometimes you will question whether you should go back to your old life or try to make your new one work.
This is completely normal.
It's normal to feel down (in a low mood) or homesick when you're settling into your new life in New Zealand.
Support from similar people
This is the time you will need support.
It is helpful to make friends with other new arrivals who you can share experiences with and talk about your challenges. Finding a counsellor can be very useful for more formal support if things don't go quite as planned.
During this stage, you start to feel more settled and comfortable in your new life. It's important to consider that some people will feel more settled sooner or later than others. Like with most things in your life, comparing your journey with others can often lead to self-doubt and damage the perception of your own self-worth.
It helps to realise that everyone has their own pace in their own life and that success is quite often found within the eyes of the beholder.
Moving to a new country can cause you to miss home. This is completely normal. If you feel homesick, it's important to remember that you are not alone and there are always others in a similar position as you who will want support and guidance, just like you.
Moving to a new country is a big change. You might feel isolated and find it hard to get used to your new surroundings. It is normal to feel homesick while you get used to living in a new location - no matter your age, experience, or where you come from.
The good news is that it doesn't usually last long. All it simply needs is time.
You will feel more at home in New Zealand if you let go of your old routines and things you're used to before. The trick is to make new connections and make new memories while you're here. By not comparing your experiences in New Zealand to those back home, you can create new ones instead of trying to recreate those back home.
Ways to reduce homesickness
Getting to know your new environment and meeting new people can help you reduce the feelings of homesickness. Getting involved in your community can also help you feel more included within the community and create more opportunities for social connection.
For most people, making new friends in another country can be hard and scary, especially when English isn't your first language. Becoming aware of this helps you understand the possible emotions you might go through during this time and help you overcome them by being aware of them. In most situations, awareness is the first step.
Here are a few ways to get to know people in your community:
- Join community groups/events
- Connect with other migrants
- Get to know your co-workers
- Find a local hobby