I think most of us underestimate the effect a different culture has on the way we perceive things, approach situations and engage socially. We talk about how being away from our family and friends is hard, we discuss the economy and of course safety.
So what really happens? Well its simple, we change. We change because we have to, we change because we need to and lastly, most importantly, we change because we want to. But what does that actually mean? It means what used to matter, doesn't matter as much anymore. This could be a food preference, a personal point of view, the things you used to think were important, like working long hours or other trivia. It also means that the way you live is different, does the big garden matter so much?
This is a very difficult process, for many reasons. It makes you feel like a liar, someone who used to say and do things in a certain way and now you not the same. It makes you feel that you don't care about those you have left behind. This is not totally true, although there is truth to it. Part of the moving and change process is that you have to detach, in order to survive and prosper in the new culture. Perhaps the biggest effect is the continuous emotional scar of who you once were and to whom, all blended in with what you want to be and with whom.
I never realised how my identity is so intrinsically tied into my space, how who I am has a lot to do with where I am and what I want to be is more about what should I be here then about which might I be somewhere.