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Why is moving to a new country stressful?

April 10, 2012

Moving to new country may sound exciting but it often becomes daunting and stressful for those who move. Majority of the members of the Westgate Culinary Club, complained about suffering from loneliness at some point of time.

I recently spoke with Dr Jodie Kliman, a psychologist, to listen to what she had to say about why moving to a new country becomes stressful, especially when a person is not allowed to work or study due to visa restrictions.

“For anybody who comes from a culture that is family-oriented, that whole fabric of support is ripped (when he or she moves),” said Kliman. “Immigrants lose their ‘social network’. It takes few years to build a new alternative family but still the depths of connection won’t be there.”

For the spouse on a dependent visa the situation becomes tougher because on visas like F-2 work is not permitted, she said. But people want to be productive and it is very natural, she added.

“That’s deeply frustrating. You go from feeling productive and useful to asking ‘What am I?’ It is a very big blow,” Kliman said.

For many immigrants moving to a new country also means they suddenly encounter racism, xenophobia and Islam-phobia, Kliman added.

“You go from being the privileged group in your country to becoming a person of color,” she said.

She said it’s very important to connect with people so that one doesn’t become clinically depressed.

“(But) it’s hard to develop friendship if you are not around people from your own community,” she said.

The members of the Westgate Culinary Club said that they spend a considerable time on the Internet to deal with their loneliness.

“The more time you spend online the chances are you will get clinically depressed because it takes you away from people. While it is a comfort to talk to friends (on the Internet) it isolates you further from real eye-to-eye or face-to-face contact. ‘LOL’ is not same as laughing together,” Kliman added a note of caution.

Kliman said it’s important to find organizations from the community one belongs to, to connect with people.

“Getting involved with neighborhood community is also another way to meet new people and connect with them. The more you get out of the house, the better,” she said.

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