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The important thing to understand is that you can have a great influence on how you feel. Noticing that you have an option to influence matters is already a big step in the right direction.

What might be helpful when adapting to a new country?

  • Realistic expectations concerning the new country and its people.
  • Grief for the past but look forward to the future.
  • Focus on living right now even if you plan to return.
  • Invest in permanent matters even if you have not decided to stay in this particular country for good.
  • Try to learn the new culture, to cope in your new roles and avoid conflicts. The previous culture, your skills and your personality are not going anywhere. No one moves to another country empty-handed. You bring with you your personal history, all valuable experiences, knowledge and skills. These are the strengths that help you survive. Combine what’s good in both cultures.
  • Be brave: learn the language, start studying or look for work. Learning the language is the best way to adapt. Start it as soon as possible. 
  • Set appropriately sized goals for yourself and move towards them in small steps. What kinds of goals and ambitions did you have previously? How can you continue with them and achieve them also in the new country? You can also create new plans and dreams for the future.
  • Ensure that you follow a steady daily rhythm: get up every morning and do something. Routines support you in everyday life. Daily routines increase a feeling of safety and the ability to survive.
  • Start to get to know your own country in the immediate neighbourhood. Later, you can expand your trips. Moving around on your own improves self-confidence.
  • Start an interesting hobby. Exercise, for example, is relaxing and improves mental wellbeing. It brings variety, recreation, excitement, joy and something meaningful to do. Exercise also improves self-confidence, initiative, ability to think and ability to perform. Exercise can help to reduce anxiety, tension, sleeplessness and sleep disturbances.
  • Enjoy food, relax and rest sufficiently.
  • Remember that your feelings and reactions are normal. Talking about your experiences and feelings makes you feel better. Meet friends and loved ones. Talk to others and explain how you are feeling. They may have similar feelings and thoughts. It is also very beneficial to seek help from professionals. 

Personally, the things that have helped me to adapt to Malta have been openness to new things and new culture, new friends, exercise and last but not least, sunny weather. I still miss my friends and family and the Finnish nature, except the total darkness in November, but at the same time I know that they are not going anywhere and that helps me when I am feeling home sick. 

Vilhelmiina Välimäki is a Finnish psychologist, who moved to Malta 2018 and has been slowly but surely adjusting to the Maltese environment and culture. She works at Willingness as a Clinical Psychologist and she is specialised in offering support to individuals from different age groups, couples and families.  You can contact her on vilhelmiina@willingness.com.mt or 9944 9910.