From the beginning of human existence, we encounter and welcome new foreign environments at different stages in our lives, from birth to attending preschool, the first day of school, orienting in university, recruitment in a workplace, visiting a foreign country. These are just some of our must foreign environment encounters, and every one of us has to go through each stage without a doubt.
What is the first thing that we do when we are born? We cry out loud with the pain of adapting to the new environment. When we go to preschool for the first time, we will still cry at least on the first day. The first day of school will still be the same. Now we enter the university since we are somewhat mature and adapted; we don’t cry on the outside but still, cry on the inside. This will be the same when adapting to a new workplace.
However, throughout all these stages, we have a lot of people closer to our hearts to make things easy and comfortable for us. But…
What if we have to survive in a foreign environment on our own?
The stereotypical mindset is that “it’s tough to survive in a foreign environment on our own.” Well, it’s not entirely wrong but entirely correct either.
Well, how can it be correct and wrong at the same time? Let’s see.
Why will surviving alone not be easy?
Living under the assurance of our parents, family, and elders our entire life and going to a foreign environment alone where we have to be independent will obviously be challenging.
A new culture, a new living system, new weather, a new set of customs and norms will take time to adapt. During that time, the body will negatively react and make it uncomfortable to live in that environment.
These are just a few of the common problems that everyone might face when adapting to a new environment,
- Feeling tired continuously; mentally and physically
- Feeling isolated due to lack of communication
- Constant headaches
Now don’t be afraid, all these are natural, and we can avoid them with time by taking proper actions and enjoying our time to the fullest while making all the moments memorable.
What can we do to make things easier?
First, it’s going to be new, and that’s something we cannot avoid, but how this ‘new’ makes us feel is something that we can work on.
There are some tips we can follow, and let’s find out what are they,
Have an Open mind
It’s crucial to be open-minded, specially when stepping into a foreign country. With the new culture, there will always be something in traditions, norms, and behaviors that will catch you by surprise.
It’s natural not to have a fully open mind towards the foreign environment. Still, we should at least have it at a level to accept and acknowledge the differences between each other and be respectful towards each other.
Research is a must if we are stepping into a foreign environment—the more you research about the country, the lesser the shock and easier it is to survive.
The most prioritized necessity for a human to survive is food, shelter, water, and food. When we are stepping into a foreign environment, all these are different and alien to our bodies. So we need a bit of preparation for what to experience and how to provide our needs. If we know what kind of food we are getting to eat, where we will get to sleep, the way to communicate with the natives, then we are good to go.
A little bit of research helps all the way!
Interpreting communication as language is a huge misinterpretation. Knowing the language does play a major role in communication, and as we can communicate clearly, but it’s not the only thing that we can rely on.
With modern inventions, translation apps are used more frequently, and they make it really convenient to communicate with the natives. And also, keep in mind, body language is a universal language!
To survive in a foreign environment, you don’t need to know every expression in the foreign language, but knowing some important ones will help you to avoid inconveniences. Few would be,
- Do you speak English?
- Hello/Good morning/Welcome
- I’m sorry/ Please excuse me
- Can you show me how to get…?
- Please write that down for me
Reach for help
Sometimes the best way to make things easy and survive alone is to ask for help. You can ask for guidance from previous exchange participants about their experience, learn from their experience and keep in touch with them. Having a friend in a foreign country or keeping in touch with professional support (buddy partner) can also help.
Surviving in a foreign environment alone will not be easy. It’s going to be a challenge, and the way you face it will make things different.
The more you are ready and prepared to face the challenge, the easier it will be to survive alone.
Don’t be afraid to go alone! Let’s not cry on the inside or outside, and let’s face these challenges with a smile on our faces.
Good luck on the journey to learn.
By Vinuri Bisheka
Showcasing Team – AIESEC in USJ