People come to Denmark from all over the world for numerous reasons e.g. a new job, a partner, to study, etc. Whatever brought them here, has definitely changed their lives. Many expats experience a culture shock, which can be a real source of psychological distress. It is very normal to have all kinds of feelings, anxiety and stress when moving to a new country. Figuring out how things work in a new country can be extremely difficult, especially when there is a new language.
A culture shock is mental distress as a result from losing all familiar signs when socializing in a new culture. It is very common to experience a culture shock when moving to a new country regardless of how long the person has been living there.
The challenge of adjusting to a new culture can be very difficult to overcome which could negatively affect a person’s quality of life across different aspects, e.g., their jobs, family, partner and hobbies. Adapting to a new country is of course a complex process experienced differently from one person to another depending on many factors.
Nevertheless, many expats carry this burden silently. They believe these are not important issues or they simply cannot find the right help, or trained professionals who can understand the psychological process of integrating to a new country and how it can affect a person’s wellbeing.
Some expats might experience the following:
- Lack of a true sense of belonging to the new country regardless of how long they’ve lived there.
- Low self-esteem.
- Feelings of isolation and/or loneliness.
- Feelings of shame because they do not know the language yet or because they have not gotten a job or career in the new country.
- Thoughts of being less intelligent than others.
- Feeling unworthy of the benefits that the country offers to their citizens.
- Thinking their career / profession is not useful or necessary in the country.
- Feeling awkward and shy in social situations, despite someone’s external appearance.
- Stress and worry towards legal status as an immigrant.
- Uncertainty for the future.
- Missing their families in a way that affect negatively their daily lives.
- Feelings of guilt for leaving their country and culture.
Some of these thoughts and feelings can manifest with symptoms of anxiety or signs of depression, both of which can require professional help to overcome.
Psychotherapy can help expats
Luckily there are ways and methods that can help people solve these challenges, allowing expats to cultivate the life they want and deserve in the country where they wish to grow. Some of the benefits expats can obtain from psychotherapy are:
- Regaining self-confidence and feeling valuable in their new community.
- Regaining feelings of belonging.
- Significantly reducing feelings of anxiety.
- Overcoming feelings of shame.
- Improving social life by being more comfortable in social situations.
- Improving life quality in multiple areas, e.g., work environments, relationships, family and hobbies.
- Obtaining tools that help to navigate and face the challenges of being an expat.
- Cultivating internal resources to build a meaningful life in the new country.
The integration process to a new culture can take some time and it is recommended to ask for help when signs of psychological distress appear. A good idea is to meet other expats and be part of an international community in Denmark who can support and advise newcomers. There are ways and solutions to build a new life. It is possible to belong again and be at home in a new country.