You’ve been excitedly planning your move for months but now you’ve landed and you’re not feeling so sure. Don’t worry – these feelings are absolutely normal and part of what’s known as the settlement curve.
In fact, there are six distinct stages most people go through as they settle in a new country – here’s what to expect over your first 18 months to two years.
Diagram source: Immigration New Zealand Settlement Services.
Stage one: forethought
This stage is all about the excitement of planning with lots of positivity about your move to your new country. It’s important to have realistic expectations about your new home country, however, so now’s the time to look into jobs, get an idea of cost of living and research where you’re going to settle.
Stage two: fun
You’ve arrived and it’s brilliant fun. New people, new places and new experiences mean you’re feeling really positive about your new home.
Stage three: fright
Uh-oh. Something’s happened. It might be something major (a family member has fallen ill) or something small (you’re stuck in traffic for the fifth day in a row) – whatever it is, it’ll make you feel frustrated which in turn makes you feel unhappy.
Stage four: flight
Ok, something has happened – and you don’t have a strong network of friends or family to call on yet in your new home country. This is the point that you may decide to move on or return to your country of origin.
Stage five: fight
Time to embrace your inner Rocky. This is your turning point – you become realistic about what it’s like to live in your new country and make a conscious decision to stay and build your life here.
Stage six: fit
Welcome to everyday life. By this stage, your challenges are more about the usual day to day stuff people think about, rather than being about living in a new country. You’ve now decided to stay which helps you to feel like you ‘fit’ in. Congratulations – you’ve made it!
Dealing with the six stages
First off, remember that everyone who has ever been in your position will have experienced these emotions at some point. Understand that it’s completely normal and natural and try some of these tips to help you deal with your emotions:
- Keep talking – to your other half, your family or your employer. Sharing your fears will help you deal with them.
- Get out and about – the couch may be calling but that’s not going to help you feel more settled. Go for a walk, get some fresh air, make the most of that new lifestyle you were after. Remind yourself why you wanted to move.
- Get involved – join your colleagues at the next social gathering, sign up to a gym, research local clubs – anything that gets you mingling with people and involved with your new life. Say yes to every offer that comes your way.
- Research settlement services – there’s organisations dedicated to helping new migrants feel happy in their new homes. Check out Settlement Support New Zealand, find settlement services in Australia or search for immigration services in Canada.
Have you made the move? Did you experience a rollercoaster journey through the settlement curve? What helped you?