Culture Shock “Therapy” at New Resident Gatherings

Starting in April, Hello, Range! will be hosting “New Iron Ranger Gatherings.” Held at the Hibbing, Virginia and Hoyt Lakes Public Libraries, the monthly meet-ups will feature a light dinner, conversation topic and hands-on activity. The purpose: to create a place for new residents to meet others, connect, and learn about their community and this region.

Moving to a new place is always challenging. The taken-for-granted ways in which we meet our needs are suddenly completely different. We have to find new grocery stores, a pet-groomer and running-shoe store (some of my personal priorities). We need to get a primary doctor and find a good school for our kids. The list is endless, and everything that was once routine is now a research project, with best guesses, some successes and some fails.

If we are moving between places that are vastly different (urban to rural, diverse to mono-cultural, international to the United States) there are even more complications: differences in language, culture, and norms can cause an emotional roller coaster–no matter how happy we are to have made the move!

People most commonly think of culture shock occurring when a person moves from one nation to another. But in actuality it occurs much more frequently. Cultural differences exist EVERYWHERE, and thus any move can trigger the sensations of culture shock.

Moving to the Iron Range is no different. As a rural region near the Canadian border, the Iron Range has unique cultural attributes, and every community within the ‘Range has additional traits that separate that community from the next.

Culture shock describes the feelings of “uncertainty, confusion, or anxiety that people may experience when moving to a new country or experiencing a new culture or surroundings.”  It occurs in four phases, and (good news!) it lessens over time:

  1. Honeymoon Stage. In this phase folks are thrilled to be in their new environment and see it as an adventure.
  2. Frustration Stage. As the excitement of the new place wears off, people become “increasingly irritated and disoriented.” In this stage misunderstanding others’ actions, conversations and ways of doing things is common–and irritation, frustration, boredom, and discomfort are the result.
  3. Adaptation Stage and this is when “people feel more at home in their new surroundings.”
  4. Acceptance or Recovery Stage.  is when “people are better able to experience and enjoy their new home… beliefs and attitudes toward their new surroundings improve, leading to increased self-confidence and a return of their sense of humor.”

As a long time equity and inclusion officer at our local college, I have connected with folks from across the country and world as they have landed in our city. I have held fiery coffee dates with folks “frustrated” and bored, and I have jumped from the dock into a fresh clean lake, post-sauna, with people happily “adapted” to Iron Range living.

Research shows there are best practices for dealing with Culture Shock. In their article, “Coping with Culture Shock,” the Canadian Government suggests tips for adjusting to new homes. A couple of these include:

  • Learn the rules of living in your host country (community). Try to understand how and why the local people act the way they do. Their behavior and customs, although they may be different from your own, are neither better nor worse than what you are used to.
  • Get involved in some aspect of the new culture. Whether you study art or music, or learn a new sport or martial art, being an interested student will make a world of difference.
  • Make friends and develop relationships. Getting to know local people will help you overcome cultural differences and understand the country. It will also show you how to be more sensitive to cultural norms and expectations.

The Hello, Range! New Iron Ranger Gatherings are a place to just this: learn about the community. Find connection points for involvement in their new culture. And develop relationships.

If you are new to the community, or you are courting the area, RSVP for these events. They are built for you.

We are glad you are on the Iron Range! We want to help you stay… and be happy!

  • Essentia Health Jobs
  • Iron Range Tourism Bureau
  • City of Hibbing
  • East Range Joint Powers Board
  • Department of Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation
  • L&M Radiator
  • City of Chisholm
  • City of Virginia
  • Fairview
  • NewRange Copper Nickel
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