According to Census data, in 2019 alone, there were nearly 31 million people who moved to the United States! While the move might be exciting for some, it’s also a big lifestyle change that can be accompanied by culture shock. Culture shock is a feeling of disorientation and confusion that can be experienced when entering an unfamiliar culture. It’s completely normal and even expected for recent immigrants. Fortunately, there are some steps you can take to help make your transition to the U.S. smoother.

Are You New to the U.S.? Here's How to Handle Culture Shock

Know That People Are Well-Traveled

Over the past 40 years, mile travel has increased by an astounding 400%. As a new immigrant, this means that you are not alone and there are many Americans with similar experiences. You should also know that the U.S. is a melting pot of cultures and backgrounds, so you’re likely to find people from your own culture who will be more than happy to help!

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. If you don’t understand something about the culture, there’s no shame in asking! Americans are friendly and approachable people who are often more than happy to answer questions and help new immigrants get accustomed to the culture.

Explore Your New Hometown

Once you have arrived in the U.S., it’s important to explore your new hometown. Get to know the local culture and visit some of the sights and attractions nearby. Ask locals for their recommendations and explore different neighborhoods. This will help you get familiar with the area and understand what makes it unique.

You can take this opportunity to connect with the local community. Joining clubs and organizations can provide an opportunity to make new friends and find people who share your interests. If you want to broaden your horizons and meet new people, joining a club or organization can be a great way to do so.

Learn the Language

Learning English is an important step in adapting to your new home. Take advantage of the language classes offered in your area, or look into online options if those are more convenient for you. You can also practice speaking English with native speakers by attending local meetups and conversational groups.

You can also learn about American culture through movies, books, and other media. Taking the time to understand the American point of view can help you better participate in conversations with people from different backgrounds.

If you’re going to school, consider taking an English as a Second Language (ESL) class to further your studies. ESL classes can help you become more familiar with the language and get comfortable speaking it in various contexts.

Connect With Your New Community

Connecting with your new community is an important part of transitioning to the U.S. Look up organizations and clubs that match your interests and values, such as a church or volunteer group. These organizations can provide a great opportunity to connect with locals and make new friends.

You can also reach out to local schools and see if there are any programs aimed at helping new immigrants adapt to their new lifestyle. Schools have a variety of activities and events that can help recent immigrants get to know the local culture and connect with people who share similar backgrounds. From January to September of 2020, nearly 166 thousand spouses of U.S. citizens obtained lawful permanent residency when first arriving in the country or after adjusting their status, so there’s naturally a demand for programs to help people like you adapt to U.S. culture.

Finally, don’t forget to take advantage of the resources available online. There are many websites and forums dedicated to helping immigrants learn about their new home and connect with others who are in the same situation.

Adapting to a new culture and lifestyle can be challenging, but with a little bit of effort and patience, it is possible. Remember to take time to explore your new hometown, learn the language, and find ways to connect with your new community. All of these steps can help make the transition smoother and more enjoyable.