Many migrants to New Zealand usually go through some form of culture shock -a pyscological reaction to an unfamiliar environment, or a sense of grief for the loss of the lives they they’ve left behind. I’d like to just take a few moments to weigh up the two.
Exposure to an unfamiliar environments can be a positive experience, there’s freshness of a new set of stimuli, the joy of discovery and the initial elation at having “made it”. It’s often called the honeymoon phase because of the the differences between the old and new cultures are seen in a romantic way.
It is during this phase that many migrants congratulate themselves on their decision to move to New Zealand, it’s a re-affirmation that their decision was a “good choice”.
Not every migrant feels this way though, some are hit with the feeling of ” What have I done?” when they realise that the quality of their life in New Zealand is going to be lower than it was in their own country. Poor working practices, low remuneration, poor quality housing, lower standards of education and xenophobia are often cited as factors
“This is so much worse than what I came from, this can’t be happening to me!” is how they often feel. This is called the denial phase.
Migrants come out their honeymoon phase as the gloss begins to wear off and the routine of everyday life is established. That vacation feeling fades away after a few weeks and they enter the negotiation phase. People often start to miss food from home, their favourite TV show, friends and relatives; they find cultural differences annoying. They may suffer mood swings during this time and some go on to develop depression.
Others transition from denial to anger as they rail against the injustices and unfairness of their new lives. They feel restricted and trapped by the situation they find themselves in.
The other group moves from denial into bargaining: How can they work out a way to make this place work, if they stick at things for a year or two perhaps it will get better?
They often take up a course of further education, get stuck in to having a family, take up a new hobby or or concentrate on doing up that awful house they just bought.
The group that experienced grief as a result of their migration move on from the bargaining phase into depression. They feel powerless to control their own destiny, they feel as if they live on the margins of society. At this stage they may not have the means to leave New Zealand or are prevented from going due to other commitments e.g.their partner is a New Zealander and doesn’t want to leave.
If they are still working they may be in a job that they are over qualified/experienced for and subordinate to someone that they feel no respect for.
This can cause depression, suicidal tendencies and a distinct feeling of being trapped and powerless.
I hope it this has been of some help to you .
If you feel that any of these issues affect you and if you are still having problems you may like to see out the services of a professional counsellor who has experience of working with migrants, perferably one that is a migrant themself and already understands the issues very well.