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Culture shock stress: Legal issues can make it worse

When you stepped onto U.S. soil and traveled to Colorado, you knew you were leaving behind everything and everyone with which you were familiar in your country of origin. Still, you had plans and dreams of starting afresh and building a new life and memories for yourself and perhaps your loved ones, if they traveled with you.

Culture shock is definitely a reality for many immigrants. Especially if you encounter significant challenges regarding a language barrier, you might have a difficult time adjusting to your new surroundings. There are several ways to help alleviate culture shock stress. However, if you also happen to run into legal problems, perhaps regarding your or a loved one's immigration status, it can make matters even worse. That's why it's important to know where to seek additional support, as needed.

Try to set aside preconceived notions

Before arriving in Colorado, you might have heard stories about what life is like here, about U.S. citizens in general or how people are likely to treat immigrants. Some of what you heard might be true. However, many immigrants also have preconceived ideas, and then find the reality of life in the United States much different. It's best to try to keep an open mind and learn what life is like in the U.S. by living it, not by what someone has told you.

Embrace your new culture

Whether you're staying in Colorado on a temporary or permanent basis, it's a fact that you will no doubt encounter many issues and situations that are vastly different from your country of origin. You may encounter new smells, food tastes, customs, styles of dress and more. While it's fine to keep up with some of your own customs, culinary traditions and other ways of living you're used to, it's also a good idea to try some new things and to immerse yourself in your new culture as much as you can.

Discuss problems with others who can help

It's helpful to share your thoughts with a trusted friend or family member who has gone through similar experiences in the past. He or she might have good advice about how to overcome culture shock. If the main cause of your stress has to do with legal status problems, you may want to discuss the issue with someone well versed in U.S. immigration law.

Common culture shock emotions and reliable solutions 

It's understandable (and common) to feel depressed, homesick, out of place or frustrated as you build a new life in America. Many immigrants pass through three phases of adjustment, including a honeymoon stage where everything feels exciting and new to a rejection stage where the emotions listed earlier take hold, then a recovery phase where life in the U.S. starts to feel normal.

Making new friends, trying new things, using the English language as much as you can and knowing where to seek support if an immigration status issue arises are all positive ways to help you overcome culture shock and enjoy settling into your new Colorado lifestyle.

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