Culture shock and its effects: we interview an immigrant therapist (2023)

beyond morebureaucraticThe challenges of moving to the Netherlands (you have seenreal estate market? ), moving to a new country often comes with unexpected mental health challenges.

Even something as simple as buying groceries or making appointments in the face of language barriers, foreign cultures and customsdoctorMeetings can become an overwhelming task.

To better understand how culture shock affects our internationalization and what we can do to cope in a new environment, we caught up with Mattaya Parker fromM. Parker Consulting.

Mattaya is an international therapist from the Great White North (Canada), currently living in the flat, often gray Hague.

Meet Mataya Parker

WhenbetWhen she first came to the Netherlands as a student, she had to create her new Dutch life completely by herself. She was cut off from her support system, in a new culture and alienated by language barriers.

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Today, she helps international people struggling with the same problems she once faced. As a psychologist certified by the NIP (Netherlands Institute of Psychologists), she successfully helps her clients find themselves in a new life and facilitates their self-development.

During a visit to our cozy DutchReview office in Leiden, we spoke to Mattaya about the obstacles of moving to a new country.

It tells us that a culture shock, even if it seems small, can have a huge international impact. She knows this pattern all too well, both from her clients and from her own experience.

So how does culture shock leave a mark?

As Mattaya explains how culture shock can have a huge impact on foreigners in the Netherlands, we're sure many of us will resonate - in ways we never expected.

“There are a lot of little things that wouldn't be stressful because they seem small, but ultimately for expats it isSoVery tough,” said Mattaya.

As a result, daily activities can suddenly add up, often resulting in stress, anxiety and a sense of alienation.

read more |Foreign students in the Netherlands suffer from loneliness

Simple tasks such as grocery shopping in Albert Heijn's perpetually chaotic alleys,general practitioner, even adapted to the Dutch languagerefrigeratorCan be a challenge for international players.

Yes, fridge.

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Mattaya tells us from experience: "Grocery shopping is a big culture shock: dealing with new ingredients, no English translation, and even learning to shop for days, not a three cubic meter fridge!"

(She's from Canada, remember 😉).

read more |5 things that will shock you when you arrive in the Netherlands

"Similarly, finding a dentist or GP can cause a lot of anxiety and stress, especially when some of them are unwilling to accept that expats may need extra check-ups, more painkillers and stuff like that."

Check yourself and recognize the early warning signs

As a representative of the Netherlands, you face seemingly insurmountable changes and challenges - in an environment that is new to you.

In all of this, it's important to take control of your mental health. We asked Mattaya to give us some warning signs to look out for that may indicate that your mental state may not be working.

you have abnormal sleeping habits

“Sleep is one of the most important things. If you don't sleep well, everything immediately becomes more difficult," explained Mattaya.

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If you notice that your sleep patterns are unhealthy, it may mean that your mental state is also unhealthy. In this regard, it is important to consider not only the duration of sleep, but also its quality.

read more |Mental health care in the Netherlands: everything you need to know in 2023

"If you sleep more than 10 hours or less than six hours - those are dangerous numbers," she says. For your overall physical and mental health, it's important to prioritize rest and good sleep.

you don't like the things you usually like

One indicator that many life changes are affecting your mental health is that you are no longer happy with the things you once loved.

For example, Mattaya said, "If you usually like going to a coffee shop and reading a book with a cup of coffee, and now you go, you realize that it just drains you - and that's almost always one of the most important indicators."

you don't want to call home

If you find that you don't want to answer the phone when your mom calls, or it takes weeks to respond to text messages from friends at home, it may be a sign that you're not doing well.

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"If you're not feeling well, you won't have the energy or mental space to call on loved ones for help," Mattaya said. "It's one of the greatest signs."

If we don't connect with the people we're supposed to connect with and the people we usually like to connect with - then there's a problem.

Don't lose hope - here's how

As an international player, getting mental health help in the Netherlands can be difficult and there are often long waits before you finally speak to a specialist.

In these times, it's important not to lose hope and push yourself to keep going. How? We asked Mattaya.

Connect with the international community

If you've felt isolated after moving to the Netherlands, the first thing to remember is that it's normal - and you're not alone.

read more |23 tips to beat expat loneliness this holiday season

Secondly, whether you come to the Netherlands alone, with your partner or with your family, it's good to break out of your own trap and integrate into the international community. “I promise they want you to get in touch; I promise they want to connect,” Mattaya said.

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We know it's easier said than done - but it's worth it. If you have an international neighbor, why not bring muffins? Join Facebook groups, chat with friends, take Dutch lessons, socialize and show yourself.

After all: who better to be with than someone who knows exactly what you're going through? you got it!

Don't forget your home support system

Even if you are thousands of miles from home and in several time zones, remember that you can always rely on the support system you left behind.

“Loneliness is one of the biggest mental health issues,” Mataya tells us. “We arePandemic

Whether it's an old friend, sibling or parent, anyone you haven't seen in a while will love to talk to you.

Yes, it may not be the same over the phone, but it matterssomeoneOn a bad day, and rely on the support system at home to build relationships.

If you feel that you are alone, it will make you realize that you are not.

give yourself credit

Summarizing, Mattaya said: "Being an expat is scary and difficult; I'm not going to pretend it's not, but what helped me survive was realizing how difficult it is to be an expat. It gave me hope."

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"The little things you do are ten times harder for you than the locals. Appreciate the fact that you have strength and be proud of yourself. You made it. You are here, you are alive." 🧡

Living abroad, you do things that most people don't even dream of doing. The obstacles you face (and overcome!) are not easy. So give yourself credit.

Get professional help (from experienced experts)

Are you struggling with your mental health? Sometimes you need expert help to solve your problems - let's see how Mattaya can help you.

Since COVID-19, many psychologists have struggled with the backlog created by the pandemic. Mattaya Parker strongly believes that healthcare is available to everyone.

It operates outside the main system, which allows it greater freedom and flexibility in dealing with customers. This allows it to offer flexible pay scales, which allows it to bill employees based on their salary scales, for example.skillpay.

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For her clients, whether they are individuals or couples, she uses a variety of psychological approaches, rather than passing them from person to person like a master system.

read more |Love life in the Netherlands: 5 things I take for granted

Through a combination of cognitive behavioral therapy and schema therapy, Mattaya helps people feel heard and helps them develop strategies to improve their functioning – and ultimately find joy.

If you are interested in setting up an interview with Mattaya, please contact herwebsiteYou will get it from us: she is full of energy, ready to talk and will be happy to help you with her knowledge.

What are your experiences with culture shock and mental health? Do you have any advice on how to start a new life? Tell us in the comments.


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