Maintaining your culture when moving to another country can be difficult, in particular, if you've been trying to immerse yourself into the new culture to deal with culture shock and adjustment to your new community. But it's important to know that just because you're adapting to a new culture doesn't mean you need to let go of the old. Balancing both worlds is important in maintaining your identity and connection to who you are.
Being born and raised in a place not only helps you form an identity with that community but it also becomes an integrated part of who you are and when a new culture bumps against what is familiar, it can feel strange and sometimes disconcerting—otherwise known as culture shock. Culture shock could be more pronounced if you didn't try to prepare yourself for this big move.
However, while these feelings are usually associated with moving to another country and culture, culture shock can also be experienced by people who move to another state or city.
So what do you do when living in a new culture to help you maintain ties to your old one?
Keep up communications with people from back home
When you first move away, keeping in touch with friends and family is easy—you're still in the honeymoon stage of your transition—a time when you still feel close to your old home. But once your new life in the new culture starts to feel familiar and comfortable, it's easy to lose touch with the people you used to know. But keeping in touch with old friends will help you stay connected to your old home and culture, often enabling you to feel connected to both worlds.
Join local clubs and associations with ties to your old culture
Most cities and even small towns will have associations or clubs you can join that are affiliated with your culture and community. Most often these organizations come in the form of social clubs—places where parties are held, social gatherings and special events. Regardless, joining a club that focuses on your old culture will not only help you maintain that tie but will also provide an opportunity to meet new people who, like you, have moved far from their old home.
Maintain cultural traditions
All of us have traditions that we adhere to—events, celebrations and ways of doing things that we grew up with. For children, in particular, maintaining these traditions can help them transition easier to a new culture, knowing that some structure has not changed. At the same time as it's important to maintain the old, don't forget to embrace the new as well. Often, special occasions, holidays and specific events provide the perfect venue to introduce some of your culture-specific uniqueness to new friends while still embracing the new. If you're unfamiliar with your cultural traditions, start researching and learning about festivals, events, and religious beliefs.
Share your culture with new friends and work colleagues
Teaching others about your culture is a great way to share what you miss and love about your home while allowing friends and colleagues to get to know you a little better. There are lots of ways to do this and can be as simple as bringing homemade treats to your office to share or suggesting friends get together at a restaurant that specializes in your culture's cuisine. Or volunteer to talk about your country and culture at a local club or school. Invite friends to your home for a traditional dinner or celebration. When people ask you questions about your home country, take the time to share what you love and miss about it.
Volunteer for a non-profit organization or community group
Depending on your cultural connection, there may be an opportunity for you to volunteer with organizations or groups that work with people from your cultural community. Some may focus on recent immigrants or work with partner organizations in your home country—either way, giving back to your community will create a very strong tie to your cultural roots.