Adjusting Expectations as an immigrant

It goes without saying that every person planning to move abroad has a set of expectations. Nobody just takes the brave step of moving from where they have long considered home to a strange land with no expectation for the best. whether the expectations are overambitious or realistic, they are always part of an immigrant’s life.

It is the expectations that someone have of a country that will determine whether they will l eventually enjoy their stay there or feel frustrated. In all honesty, any two immigrants will have dramatically contrasting experience of a country primarily because of what they initially expected of it.

Anyone who has traveled to new destinations will tell you that one or two things must have gone awry or gone in a way unexpected. Such experiences are real and live in different forms and shapes. Colloquially speaking, things on the ground may just be so different yet you have to adapt.

A typical case is where someone travels from a less developed to a developed country in the hope that everything will be rosy only to find out that even there, people have to work themselves up. Or better still, one has to take unexpected jobs considerably below qualification in order to survive.

Common Expectations in a new destination

In most cases, destinations and countries package themselves in a particular way to only project the good side. No one country will voluntarily showcase what is wrong with it and the people. So oftentimes, a newcomer has this particular hope that in the new place, things will work out better than at home.

While positivity has its place in everybody’s life, it does not necessarily mean that everything will turn out as expected. Instead, in one way or the other, things will play out differently in a positive or negative way.

As anyone will tell you, nobody leaves where he or she calls home to a new place unless there is a promise that things may be better there. For a tourist, the expectation is that there will be beautiful attractions at the destination, properly staffed and equipped research centres for a researcher or proper job opportunities e cetera.

But the elephant in the room is how to deal with the turns and twists that threaten to completely darken expectations. For example, you find the standards of living very high, environment less tolerable and culture overly restrictive.

Unexpected things in as a newcomer

Whatever surprises people or stretches their expectations vary from person to person. In fact, I daresay, expectations are as many as the newcomers themselves. Each person moves with a particular interest or focus on mind; whether getting a good work, education, health or utmost leisure and pleasure.

It is true that sometimes there are unexpected positive things that happen to a new immigrant. For instance, as a tourist, discovering a new gem in the form of an attractive place which was not in the travel plan is a positive unexpected. Likewise, a job seeker landing a new job immediately upon arrival is positive.

But, what sticks out in the minds of many is the negative unexpected things. Take for instance, having to take an unskilled job yet you are so qualified or being homeless in a rich country…these occurrences may not seem to add up but they happen every other day.

When things don’t Go as Expected

With the true adventure and opportunity seeking attitude, everyone seems to always overlook the possibility that maybe things may go awry. But it is a god idea to know that life is so random and can always throw you off balance wherever and whenever.

Although there is a very thin line between failure, impatience and things just turning on the downside, let’s just say one will somehow experience things that force them off trajectory. Mind you, there is this insatiable and nagging longing to get to the accomplishment line so quickly.

At the time of leaving home to a new destination, family, friends and relatives all have expectations that through you, their life will change. In the case of leisure travellers, people back at home will be waiting to hear narrations of the perfect experiences there. All this pressure put together can be so overwhelming.

In most cases, people are wired to prioritize the need to get results quickly and that the experiences in a new place will be worth telling for all the good reasons. I am tempted to call this as the feel good obsession that is part of human life. But look at it this way, could it be just a case of over expectation with the good, impatience or naivety?

How to deal with surprises and unexpected realities in a new place

In whatever shape or colour, people will in one way go through situations that they never anticipated. Take for instance, the differences in labour market structure, career practices ,education systems et cetera do not guarantee that things will obviously be rosy.

As an advice, it is necessary that one sets realistic expectations and forge onwards with the realities. There is a characteristic stress, self-pity and desperation that comes when one becomes too hard on the self to get whatever they expected. In fact, cases of indulging in senseless and irresponsible behaviour including drug abuse to cover for the stress are common.

To cope with new realities at your destination, it is important to avoid rigidity and be opened to accommodate new ways. This new reality does not mean letting go of so much. Simply, you remain focused on the ultimate prize but allow the process to flow with the reality.

The value of patience when living in a new environment

There can never be enough coaching on life skills in a new destination. People will experience them in their own way and react to them differently as well. Unexpected situations may be material or emotional but in either case, they are largely draining.

People who have lived in any new place long enough or just temporarily will tell you the value of patience. In a new place, you are a newcomer meaning things will not change in the way you want. Instead, it is always you to change your thought process and expectations to align with the reality.

So, the process of adjusting oneself to whatever is actual on the ground sometimes creates a lot of emotions, being at a loss and desperate. But, as long as someone understands that it takes a bit of waiting for breakthroughs to come in a new country, it is never too late.

Best ways to overcome unexpected turn of events in a new place

It will be naïve to let go of your expectations just because they don’t seem to come sooner as expected. It is advisable to keep the eyes on getting what one wants while in the meantime being open to the intermediate  opportunities that come along the way.

Those who keep an open mind and avoid obsession with get it quickly attitude eventually reap big from their choice of staying in a new place.

As senior people will put it, when you have the eyes trailed on a particular outcome, any unexpected turns along the way are just challenges that eventually serve as springboards.

Setting realistic expectations as an immigrant

As much as people loosely say that we live in a global community, the truth of the matter is that when out of your own country of citizenship, things cannot be the same. Maybe things may be okay with time but not immediately on arrival.

Ordinarily, people setting out to a new destination will have a mindset that things will work in a more linear way with no challenges. However, upon arrival, it is necessary to somehow reimagine the expectations and align them with the situation on the ground.

Having realistic expectations and goals in a new country saves someone the burden of having to spend too much time agonizing in case things delay happening as expected.

Mind  the past, but look  to the future

In some cases, people are likely to entertain the idea of moving back to where they came from immediately they realize that achieving expectations  may not be as quick. To them, it is better to deal with low achievements at home than abroad. However, this is a wrong mental frame to have as an immigrant.

It is good to keep the past, realities at home and opportunities left there but not advisable to tolerate the idea of moving back so fast. It is important to be ready to build life all from scratch, pretty much aware of the fact that it may not be so easy but manageable.

The past and expectations in such new places should inspire you to put more hours into what you are doing, keep the dedication and just put brick to mortar until it gets better.

Learn the new culture, try to cope in your new roles and avoid conflicts

Much of the frustrations around unexpected turn of experiences is that immigrants live in so much denial which makes it difficult to embrace realities. It is partly because of not accepting to be part of the new culture there.

As a matter of survival and being largely adaptable, it is important to be proactive in learning the new culture, accept the new assignments and conflicts. At the end of the day, you voluntarily made the choice to move there and have to adapt.

When you learn the host culture, slowly you start feeling as being part of the community and before long, get immersed into it proper. This is the tactic which works for people.

Learn the language, look for work or get an education

As is expected, language is an important way for entering a society. As an immigrant, your expectation is hinged on how much you will be able to interact with the hosts who eventually determine how everything else plays out.

Learning the host language is just a very cortical step towards making life easier and living your expectations to some extent.

Also, get trained in some short courses or even university so that your thinking is aligned with the industrial expectations in the country. Again, be aggressive in looking for more work and adjust your career experience to what stands out for employers in the new environment you live in.

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An avid storyteller and passionate writer with a penchant for letting people know that which they don't know while at the same time telling people more about what they may already have known. At the end, you stay informed, be curious, and get cosy.