The Settlement Curve meanders through fun and fright to victory

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on whatsapp
Share on email
Moumita Das Roy

Moumita Das Roy

Auckland, June 17, 2022

As a child, one of my favourite pastimes was to read an atlas.

I could spend hours with it! 

I was fascinated by maps, and finding new places while discovering routes from one destination to another. As I grew up, my love for maps graduated to being in some of those places. And I realised who we are, is so much about what our places are.

The Māori Pepeha is a way of introducing ourselves to places that are important to us. It tells who we are by sharing our connections with our people and places. Our greeting, our mountain, river or sea, our place, our name, and our family name. Here’s my Pepeha. Share yours below.

The Settlement Curve

Have you heard about the Settlement Curve when arriving in a new country? It goes through a phase of discovery, starting from fun to fit. The fun starts with the excitement of being in a new place. Followed by fright, triggered by an unpleasant experience or from missing home. In a few months, there comes a dilemma – flight or fight. This is the real test phase and having a support network, in friends, colleagues, and mentors, decides whether to go back or to settle down. Finally comes fitting in. Bringing together one’s whole self, embracing the new. Read more about the Settlement Curve here.

Joining the Belonging Conversation

I have worked in advertising and television. With BBDO Worldwide, Ogilvy and The Walt Disney Company. Advertising or any form of popular expression of art, are tools or medium that create collective memory and cultural conditioning, leading to societal integration. Sports, Cinema, and Politics… contribute to forming behaviour and values within a community.

Among the various things I did to understand the new country, its people, I looked up memorable expressions and iconic moments in Kiwi television and advertising.

The ‘Goodnight Kiwi,’ by animator Sam Harvey, appeared every night at the end of transmission on Television New Zealand between 1976 and 1994 and is a much-loved part of the country’s cultural fabric. The tune is a popular lullaby ‘Hine e Hine,’, written by Fanny Rose Howie.

An example of a Kiwi Do-It-Yourself banter, while taking a soft dig at the Aussies!

Stories of Belonging

Every person moving to a new country has their version of cruising the Settlement Curve, discovering their journey to belong to a new place. I invited some Kiwis to my audio chat to share their stories of belonging. Here are some of them.

Bharat Chawla: It is not an easy thing. You must start again. From the outside, people thought my life is smooth, but they could not see the struggle, the journey is always a bumpy ride. It is important to be confident, knock on every possible door, go out there and communicate openly. It takes a couple of years to get people across the line.

Larry Goldfarb: Spend some time in the area to plan where you will settle, especially if you have family, where the kids could walk to school and good neighbourhoods. I know someone with international double masters in their field who say, it is more important to be well-networked and know people from within the industry. It is common for older women expats, with high credentials, difficult to find roles that match their expectations.

Giri Prashanth: Listening to every expat journey is like going through my own once again. There are assumptions that one must break through. I came here on a project and loved the place. We decided to make this our new home. Moving a country is not just about me, I was responsible for my partner too, who had to restart her career. Finding acceptance, not being branded over-qualified is a real challenge and we need more people to shake the boat and change things to create that space.

Umesh Raaj: I came as an international student and realised soon enough that most of the learning happens outside the classroom and coping with the overall change. It is a process of unlearning and relearning about people, and cultures.

Dr Anitha Ranganathan: When I started looking for jobs here, I remember making a folder for all the jobs I applied for, to keep a record of how many. 5 years down, things have progressed for me. I think what is important here is to have the right connections. To reach out. Go beyond a paper CV.

Jessie Liu: I am originally from Taiwan, married to a German-Kiwi, and living in New Zealand for more than 20 years. I have an interesting cultural mix not just on my professional front, but also at home. When you understand the local humour, consider yourself a local too!

Himanshu (ash) Parmar: Whoever moves to a new country must soldier on and not give up. The initial years are always very hard, but it gets better.

Peter Elbourne: I came to New Zealand as an 18-year-old student. It’s important to have a plan, I had mine. I took a gap year, did my overseas experience, saved, and paid back my student loan early. I was lucky to have people who took me in until I found my place. From there on it’s been a splendid journey. I have worked across many countries, but this is where I come home to.

Lavinia Thanapathy: I live in Germany, originally from Singapore. Home for me is always about people, it’s never home until there are people, I feel connected with. It’s important when moving countries, to find connections, become a part of the local communities and encourage the children to join some groups too, so they feel integrated into their schools. Learning to speak the local language also helps to open many doors.

Lea Jean Leopold: I moved from Singapore to Germany, I would be surprised to hold long, high-level conversations about all sorts of things with complete strangers, stopping at the traffic light. But I gradually accepted it and realised it is about understanding how things work in a place. People generally are helpful and there is a lot of kindness when you are least expecting it.

Annie Huang: Moving back to New Zealand, I am still finding my feet to build a network of people I can have conversations. This community is very welcoming, and I will be leveraging it to rebuild my network here.

Lalit Goyal: It takes that one person to give a newcomer to a country their first chance, and see the favour being returned. I am a pie chef in Central Otago, and I will not blow on my (secret recipe of) pie but will share an awesome Paneer Butter Masala recipe instead.

Akash Padal: I am a software developer and thoroughly enjoy living in NZ. I can exchange notes on where to find the best Indian food that tastes more like home.

Jennifer Henslee-Hoole: I am married to a Kiwi; we live in the US. Understanding culture and its nuances of it is not possible unless we immerse ourselves in it completely. I took time to understand what a Kiwi Ya-Nah means – it is a ‘No’, but a soft ‘no’.

Yeah, Nah

Kiwis are exceptionally agreeable, so even when they want to disagree with you, they will throw in a ‘yeah’ as well.

Basically, “yeah, nah” is a non-committal way of saying no.

As in: “Do you want to go for a hike this weekend?” “Yeah, Nah, I’ll think about it ay.”

Paul Spain: Being a Kiwi is unique to each person. We do value our family time, our leisure time. What is common is our love for Aotearoa, New Zealand.

Nathan Mercer: I am a Kiwi in Seattle, and I get my dose of Whittaker’s Chocolate delivered – that is a part of my care package from home.

George Li: I am an Electrical Engineer with NASA JPL, I have a little bit of New Zealand with me in the USA too, in my ration of Whittaker’s!

Georgia Wang: I am a real estate agent in Auckland, the Kiwi Yeah-Nah to me is giving people a little bit of hope before the split-second decision change to a no!

Cyndilu Miller: I called New Zealand home as soon as I landed here. This is where I belong. I am a Kiwi.

Tristan Bailey: I started networking even before I moved, and started making friends. I started a new hobby, getting involved with the community. I now live between Brighton and Köln, there are so many stories I could share!

Christmas in July

Here is a story of a mid-winter Christmas party for a chilly Christmas feel Downunder.

Video Link:

This is from an old post, and the quotes above are from the event mentioned in it.

If you enjoyed reading this article, don’t forget to stop by in the comments to share your story of moving countries and embracing a new culture.

Share this story

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on whatsapp
Share on email

Related Stories

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.