How to become part of the community

Moving, as you surely know, isn’t just hauling your stuff from point A to point B. There’s much more to moving than that. When you move, you’re in a new environment. New places to see, new food to taste and new people to meet. But how do you integrate into such an environment that may come off as strange to you? Well, Affordable Packing Indiana is here to help you become part of the community.

This old man is a part of the community, so why not you?
To become part of the community, you need to know different cultures.

Overcoming the cultural shock

You’ve moved from a Western country into China, Japan, Singapore or somewhere else. Every day, you eat at restaurants, go to and from work and generally enjoy life. You see some customs and practices that seem a bit off, or downright bizarre, such as:

  • The people of Sonkajärvi, Finland have a competitive sport called wife-carrying. They actually carry their prettier halves or their backs and race through an obstacle course to the finish line;
  • People in South American countries tend to kiss when they see each other. First time on the left cheek, then right, then left again. It’s a form of salutation;
  • In South Korea, it is considered rude to give tips and it will earn you some reproachful looks.

So, how do you overcome the culture gap between your culture and the culture you’ll be moving into?

Read extensively

Being prepared in advance will get you a long way. I’m not asking you to read scientific papers and doctoral theses. Read forums, blog posts, and lists, in the country that you will be moving into. Read about their history and heritage, their wars, their cities, their kings (or rulers in general), archaeological foundations, lost cultures, music, art, literature…

Books on different culture will help you become part of the community.
When learning about new cultures to become a part of the community, a book is your friend.

It seems hard. That’s what the scientific field of anthropology is all about, after all. But you don’t have to be a meticulous scientist, you need only to know the outlines. If you’re, say, going to China, knowing something about the Han dynasty or the Mongol invasions will make you more integrated. That’s just one of the many ways to become part of the community. If you’re going to Jerusalem, knowing something about the Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) will help you with the locals, no matter their religious orientation. When you’re moving overseas or doing a long distance relocation by land, you may find yourself to be a stranger in a strange land.

To become part of the community, try to learn the language

Our list continues with one obvious advice. Of course, don’t take this advice to mean that you should master the language to perfection. That takes years upon years of conversation. You should, however, try to learn the basic stuff, such as how to:

  • Introduce yourself (name, last name, occupation, address, etc.) to become part of the community;
  • Ask for directions (you’ll certainly need that one);
  • Take a person’s contact info.

Generally speaking, you’ll need a lot more than just that. Humans are, as ancient philosophers have figured out, social beings. To socialize, we use both verbal and nonverbal cues. Nonverbal cues are universal – smile, hug, frown. However, to truly socialize, we need language. This is truly important if you want to become part of the community.

Picking up the habits

Your openness towards new cultures may lead you to strange new places, such as fishing villages in China.
Cultures that are different from yours will broaden your mind.

Germans are punctual to a fault, while in Brazil, it’s almost customary to arrive late, even to a business meeting. If you’re late in Germany, you’ll be seen as irresponsible. If you arrive right on time in Brazil, you’ll be seen as uptight and arrogant. You can see what I’m trying to say here. Different cultural norms mandate different habits. The bad thing about these habits is that they will annoy you a lot.

Say you have a business meeting in Rio de Janeiro at 6:15 p.m. You arrive ten minutes early, and you find that nobody is there. It annoys you absolutely. During the next half an hour, you wait in frustration for the meeting to begin. Once the meeting begins, business goes on as if nothing had happened. The good thing, however, is that you’ll pick these habits up almost subconsciously. After five or six meetings, it will stop driving you mad. Your colleagues will see you as one of their own, rather than an uptight stranger that you become in their eyes when you aren’t following their social norms.

Do not break laws

Not even the crazy ones. There are some absurd laws out there, and some are closer to home than you might think. If you, say, moved from California to Indiana, there’s a bunch of legislatures that you just have to believe was written by toddlers.

Just to stress my point, let’s have a short review of confusing and absurd laws in Indiana:

  • The exact dimensions of a hotel sheet, as mandated by law, are 99×81 inches;
  • Government officials who participate in a private duel are discharged;
  • Smoking in the state legislature building is banned unless said legislation is taking place;
  • It is forbidden to catch a fish with your bare hands.

If you’re moving to Indianapolis, or anywhere else in Indiana for that matter, you would do well to keep track of these. Every US state has some outdated crazy laws that somehow remained in effect, but if you end up fined or in jail for such silly stuff, you can hardly become a part of the community. Your local movers Mishawaka, for instance, may tell you something about crazy laws in Indiana before you move, but you should contact an attorney.

Do not forget to enjoy it

Finally, in order to become a part of the community, you should just relax and enjoy life. Nobody likes being overstressed, plus, it’s bad for your health. If you want to integrate into a community, it doesn’t mean you have to relinquish your previous identity. You only have to enrich it.