Expatriates moving to India can find the cultural adjustment process both exhilarating and exhausting. “There is a very good reason why India is held up as the ‘litmus test’ for travelers: if you can survive it here, you can survive anywhere,” writes Sonya Natalia Heaney. In her article How to be an Expatriate in India Sonya writes about returning to their new home in India after a vacation out of the country. “The shock of returning to this unconventional place is already starting to wear off. It is—for some inexplicable reason—surprisingly easy to call India home.”
Sonya and her family are not alone in their experience of the ups and downs of cross-cultural adjustment. Expatriates assigned to India face significant challenges in learning and adapting to differences in thinking, communicating, doing business, and living. These cultural differences, however, provide a unique opportunity for self-discovery and personal growth. In the Art of Crossing Cultures, Craig Storti writes, “The overseas experience profoundly transforms all who undergo it, whether they interact successfully with the local culture or not. Such is the impact of the experience, on so many levels –physical, intellectual, emotional – there is no possibility of a moderate, much less a neutral reaction. You either open yourself up to the experience and are greatly enriched by it, or you turn away – and are greatly diminished.”
In our work as cross-cultural trainers, we have found that openness, persistence, and a sense of adventure are key characteristics of successful expats. If you and your family are planning to move to India on an international assignment, check out our resources for living cross-culturally or contact us to learn more about our in-country Cultural Orientation to India workshops.