If you’re moving to Ghana and you don’t know what to expect, you’ve arrived at the right place. Adapting to life in Ghana may have its challenges and it will push you out of your comfort zone but at the same time it can be a very exciting process.
There are two different mindsets when adapting to a new country. On the one hand, the cultural assimilation of traditions, what to wear, lingo, weather and even what to eat, all of which you can read in this guide to Ghanaian lifestyle.
But on the other hand, there are also different psychological stages that you must face as an expat to overcome cultural adaptation and adjustment to Ghana life. Networking and connecting with other expats in Accra is also very helpful.
Let’s take a comprehensive look at the stages of cultural adaptation to a country so unique as Ghana.
Stages of cultural adaptation to Ghana life
The process of adjusting to a new place can be an emotional rollercoaster. Just as the roller coaster goes up, down, and also has more flat sections, your adaptation phase may feel the same.
According to Michael Winkelman’s book, “Cultural Shock and Adaptation”, there are 4 stages to cultural adaptation:
- Honeymoon or tourist phase
- Crisis or cultural shock phase
- Adjustment, reorientation and gradual recovery
- Adaptation, resolution or acculturation phase
Going through these 4 phases (or any of them separately) is completely normal and typical. It is important to understand that any emotional reactions or difficulties you encounter, are all temporary and are all part of the process of you adapting to Ghana life as an expat.
Greenviews has a great expat community that will allow you to meet a few people and families from around the world immediately. Not to mention its beautiful, green and serene environment away from Accra chaos which is definitely a bonus!
Let’s have a look into more detail at each phase.
The Honeymoon or tourist phase
This phase is that moment where everything is new and fresh and excitement kicks in. All your five senses are stimulated. You will want to discover more of the Ghanaian culture and pay a visit to many of the tourist sites in Ghana.
Excited about the culture? You may even decide to learn any of the thousand local Ghanaian languages because you feel that will be the best way to start immersing yourself into the culture.
Try and write down all these positive emotions you feel (and all the positive perceptions you may have of Ghana) in preparation of the next phase which may come with not such positive feelings: The crisis or cultural shock phase.
The crisis or cultural shock phase
After a few weeks or months of excitement and understanding better the culture and your environment, frustrations or things you hate about the country may start arising. You may even start developing some sort of bitterness due to not understanding the language, due to being overcharged constantly (very important to learn bargaining skills in Ghana!) Or many other phenomenons that you will only experience in Ghana.
This is the phase where you may also start experiencing homesickness and question if you should actually go back to your country.
This is one of the most difficult phases. Do not panic, maybe go back to reading the positive things you wrote during the honeymoon phase and remember that no feeling is forever.
This is the phase that you may want to push yourself a little to go out there and network a little bit, meet new people, if you have kids, try any of these activities in Accra for children or maybe even join any of the best gyms in Accra!
How about maybe even organizing a BBQ at Greenviews beautiful garden area as a way to engage more with the expats living there?
If you experience any of the following symptoms, you may be going through a culture shock:
- Homesickness and calling your family & friends more often than normal
- You complain too much about Ghana
- Easily irritated/angry
- Changes in eating/sleeping habits
- Not wanting to socialise or go out
- Recurring illness
- Sense of failure and self-doubt
- Feeling hostile/lonely
Adjustment, reorientation and gradual recovery phase
You will know you are in the adjustment phase when you start to feel more stability. Maybe you have a more stable routine going on for yourself. You will also feel more comfortable with your environment/ the culture.
You will not be so frustrated or angry anymore and accept certain things about how things work in Ghana (you will know that turning up early for a meeting is definitely a no, no! :D). You may start loving some local Ghanain dishes and even have learnt a few slang words. There will of course still be a few challenges, but you will feel more at ease.
Adaptation, resolution or acculturation phase
Finally, you reach the most desired face, the adaptation phase. After all the rollercoaster of ups and downs, the journey seems to be a little more flat and less bumpy. You have now managed to create your own way of living; a blend between your own culture and Ghanaian culture. You may even have your own group of friends you meet with often.
Maybe even have formed a strong bond with some of your fellow expat neighbors! A sense of belonging to this new community develops and the new place is enjoyable. While you may never get back to the heightened euphoria you felt during the honeymoon stage, you’ve now gained a strong sense of belonging and finally feel at home in your new environment. This phase will often last until the end of your expatriation.
The Reverse Culture Shock
Returning home may not be as “easy” as it seems. Again, it may vary from person to person but you may experience a reverse culture shock when returning back home after an extended period away.
Going back home may also feel challenging; there may be certain aspects of the culture you don’t like anymore because you experienced “better”, your friends may not feel “the same”, you may even feel homesick for your life as an expat in Ghana now! Simply be prepared to possibly go through similar stages of the settlement curve when returning home, it will help you through to readapt quickly.
However long or short your adaptation is, be sure that at GreenViews you can enjoy the highest quality of our luxury apartments and the best facilities at Airport Residential Area, one of the best neighborhoods in Accra.