For most people immigration is a challenge that takes years of physical and emotional adjustment.
In the beginning of ‘reincarnation’ immigrants tend to criticise their new land of hope: everything seems wrong, out of place, ridiculous and weird. The language makes no sense, the culture is strange, the architecture is ugly and the food is poisonous.
I am not trying to be judgemental; in fact, I’ve recently went through this stage myself… But having left the negativity phase, I’d like to share some thoughts of mine that might improve the state of misery among fellow immigrants.
Most people leave their country of birth in order to seek a better lot in life or to reunite with their family members. They hope to find ‘the land of milk and honey’ – the perfect place on Earth, where they would be surrounded by nice people, easy money and never-ending goodness. So too, they think that all the hardships of their native, at times undeveloped country, would stay in past. Tough luck.
In reality though, the newcomers underestimate the strong affection for their motherland, old friendship and the fundamental feeling of belonging. It takes ages to adjust to a country, learn its culture and fit in the new surrounding, which makes it even harder for older immigrants with shaped identity. So, what’s the solution?
I believe that all immigrants would benefit a lot from considering their immigration experience as a business opportunity with its own challenges, strategies and goals for success. Therefore, they should view themselves as CEOs and not the victims of terrible luck.
It’s really not that hard; all you need is to keep a positive attitude and to learn a few business basics.
We all know that careful planning is the key to starting a successful business. As a communication major, I used to wonder, why did I have to write those lengthy business plans for my professors? I mean, did they really care about my long-term goals all together?
They did. They wanted to make me think about all pros and cons of my project, or the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.
When one knows about his risks, he is more equipped to deal with challenges as they arise. You can’t avoid problems, but you may control your reaction and use each crisis as an opportunity.
The same attitude works for immigration. By moving away, we make a statement that our old business ‘branch’ hasn’t operated successfully in the old place; therefore it was relocated. And that’s why our psychical and emotional efforts should be applied in the new ‘branch’.
It’s easier said than done, right? How can one simply erase his childhood memories and go on with the new life in the country where he doesn’t belong?
I used to wonder about my own destiny… After all, why wasn’t I just born in US or Australia or who knows where… Why did I have to move so many times and go through the torture of being a complete stranger over and over again?
It’s all for good, I finally understood. I am very happy to be the ‘product’ of so many cultures, which helps me a lot to relate to other people worldwide. You want to learn multiculturalism? Just come over to my place in Australia for some Chinese take-away and Russian tea with Jewish babka cake and American marshmallows)
So, I really don’t ask to remove your memories. On the contrary, cherish those and go back to the moments of your sincere happiness every time you feel strange: it takes a while to adjust. But once you realise that this country is not that very different from your own, things are going to get rosier. After all, it’s the same world, with flowers, smiles and birds’ singing, right?
And all those who still suffer from their hidden dream to go back, should grab a pen and write down (or just cut and paste) my humble ideas of overcoming their unreasonable nostalgia.
Remember! You are a businessperson.
- You came here by choice, fully realising that your company (or family) have more potential for development in this country and not where you lived before.
- Instead of diving into the state of depression, try to focus on establishing a strong reputation for your company and its brand (aka you and your family) on this country’s market. So, write up a business plan with your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats NOW.
- Educate yourself about your partners (government benefits, health care, work opportunities etc) and learn about your rights!
- Establish network contacts (find new friends among immigrants AND LOCALS) in order to realise that your life hasn’t finished by moving overseas.
- Be proud of your choice: You’ve made a conscious decision to make your life better and you’ve accepted the challenge for improving your future.
Don’t laugh, those techniques really work: been there, done that.
You’ll be amazed of yourself once the negativity phase will end. You’ll be a new person: confident, happy and truly multicultural. And if your destiny is to move, be happy about it. The world is a wonderful place and you are lucky to learn it from different angles.