‘Culture Shock’ can be a major factor in preventing expats from getting the most out of their new life overseas. Defined as “the feeling of disorientation experienced by someone when they are suddenly subjected to an unfamiliar culture, way of life, or set of attitudes”, it’s something that will have been experienced in some degree by anyone who has previously taken their career to a foreign environment.
In order to try and help you and your family work through the symptoms, we’ve taken a look at the most common factors likely to affect you in each country we work with, and how to combat them. After all, preparation can be the key.
In the third of our new ‘Culture Shock Cures’ series we’ll look at the most popular location with expats from the United Kingdom. Australia.
The size of the country, and distance to...anywhere!
Australia is an absolutely vast country, stretching out over more than 7.5 million square kilometers, travelling anywhere can be time consuming therefore. Travelling by air is the most common way for people to cover long distance commutes, and this can be quite a shock. Especially for people moving from smaller Middle Eastern locations.
That’s not all, Australia is a huge distance away from almost anywhere that would be considered similar, with the notable exception of New Zealand. If you’re moving from the UK or similar European location therefore the prospect of a day long journey to return home can be extremely daunting.
Top Tip: You will only get a real perspective of how vast Australia is (and how far from anywhere else) Australia is by visiting the country. Make sure you spend some time in Australia before committing to a move.
A very informal way of life
Australia is renowned worldwide for its relaxed way of life, however that can come as a shock to many non-Aussies moving to the country. Dress codes are far less strict than they are elsewhere, with unbuttoned shirts, and less formal dresses being allowed in the workplace. On top of this the Australian lingo leads to the shortening of almost everything, meaning that it can be quite tricky to pick up at first - especially if English is a second language. Finally don’t be shocked if Australian’s swear around you, often it can be meant in an endearing way, and little is thought of using words that may be considered inappropriate elsewhere.
Top Tip: Try and brush up on some local phrases prior to a move, this will help you to feel less daunted when you first arrive.
Cost of living
A move to Australia can be an expensive one for many expats, with the higher cost of living in the country coming as a shock. Groceries are where you’re most likely to notice this change, with the high cost of importing goods to the country (especially fresh fruit and vegetables) leading to a premium being charged for them.
The country’s size also means that utility bills are higher than they are in Europe and the Middle East. Australia remains predominantly rural and so gas, electricity, water and internet all comes at an increased cost (around 14% more than in the UK).
Top Tip: Budget before making a move. There are plenty of online tools that help to determine the cost of living overseas, and so using these to determine how far your salary will be able to go, should help to avoid a nasty shock when you arrive.