Are you new to Singapore, or have recently moved elsewhere?
Change is powerful, but not always easy.
“Nothing remains as it was. If you know this, you can begin again, with pure joy in the uprooting.”
― Judith Minty
As we start a new academic year, we welcome new families to our shores. We see this influx every year, but this time it’s different, we’re living through the COVID-19 pandemic. So, what can we do to adapt to our new home and make the most out of a situation which presents challenges for connecting socially?
This post will shed light on the stages of cultural adaptation and share tips on how to create a sense of community amidst a pandemic.
Some glide into a new culture and feel at home instantly, but most of us experience a period of adjustment or culture shock. This is extremely normal. Knowing this and understanding that there are phases for cultural adaptation can help immensely in working through the highs and lows of adjusting to a new home, accepting what arises, knowing that phases come and go, and knowing that you’re not alone.
Cultural adaptation generally moves through four phases:
Everyone experiences these stages slightly differently and the impact and order of each stage can vary. What’s important is to know they are common and temporary experiences, ultimately leading to personal growth, fond memories and new perspectives.
So what can you do about it?
1) Acknowledge it
Feeling culture shock is absolutely normal. Keep in mind that it isn’t just you, and that it’s a good thing in the long run. It can challenge your own perceptions and change your paradigms, but you can come out of it with a much broader world view.
2) Stay Grounded with Familiar Things
When everything is new, the familiar can be comforting. Keep in touch with loved ones. Keep something familiar things at hand – a favourite novel, photos of loved ones, a playlist you love on your phone, etc. Remember that what you are feeling is normal and staying grounded helps.
3) Explore Your New Country
There is a lot to see and do in Singapore – visit the sights, find things that you enjoy exploring and get out and about. This is a beautiful and incredibly culturally diverse city.
4) Connect one-to-one or in small groups
It is paramount to follow the government guidelines and protocols to keep us safe during a pandemic and at this time medium to large social gatherings are not possible. What this translates to for people wanting to connect with others, is to meet in small groups or one to one. It requires creativity and being intentional in making efforts to reach out to others. For example, in the past we could connect with other school parents at the cafeteria and school grounds – now we need to connect online first, and from that point set up small playdates for our children, or coffee dates, to get to know the parent community.
5) Follow your bliss
One of the easiest ways to connect is by finding like-minded people, people who share your interests and hobbies – what you’re passionate about. Be proactive in reaching out to new people and communities of interest. Start online and go from there. Take chances and reach out to others or say yes to invitations. Join a sports team, do volunteering projects, do a baking class – do the things that light you up. Also, remember that Singapore is constantly welcoming new people, so many will be in the same position as you and looking to connect.
6) Use Social Media to Connect
More than ever, the online space is a wonderful platform to make connections. Through it you can connect with like-minded people and find out what’s going on in Singapore. There are social media groups for expats that have a wealth of information and are fantastic avenues to connect with others. Search on Facebook and Instagram for expat or local groups according to subjects that interest you. Most condos also have their own Facebook groups.
The importance of staying socially connected during a pandemic is more important than ever. It takes a little creativity and initiative but it’s possible and well worth the effort.
We see new families arriving into Singapore on a regular basis and know from personal experience what it is like to be new in a country. We’re here to help you in making your transition as smooth as possible so feel free to reach out to us anytime.
We believe in the power of community – it’s one of our values – and we invite you to be part of ours!
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