Studying or working abroad can be immensely rewarding. You get to experience an entirely new culture, meet interesting people, and expand your horizons. However, there’s no denying that the thought of adjusting to life in a new country can be a little daunting. Worry not! We’ve got you covered with some top tips for settling in.
Get involved with the local community
It’s common for expats to seek out people from their own country when they arrive in a new one. There’s nothing wrong with this at all – it can be a great way to meet people and get used to the area. However, getting stuck in a bubble of only expats defeats the point of travel in the first place.
You should try to get involved with the local community any way you can. Join clubs, go to social events, and make the effort to talk to your neighbours. It can help you feel at home in your new destination.
See the wonder wherever you are
Whichever country you visit, you’re bound to encounter some new and interesting parts of that culture. It will be different from anything you’ve seen before, and even if you’ve done your research, certain elements may seem surprising.
Avoid the temptation to be sceptical about such differences. Learn to treat these cultural nuances with respect and interest. If you’re not sure about the reason for something, try to ask one of your local friends about it. After all, living in a new country is always a learning experience.
Say yes to invitations
If you’re living and studying in a new country, there will likely be plenty of events going on that you can get involved with. There’s no better way to adjust to a new way of living than feeling like you’re part of the community. So, if you get invites to events, social meetups, sports games, or similar, make sure to put yourself out there and say yes.
Don’t neglect your studies or let your social life overwhelm you, but do make an effort to try new things. You might not love every single thing you do, but keeping active and meeting new people is an important part of settling in.
Practice the language
If you’re visiting a place where the native language isn’t the same as your own, it’s well worth taking the time to learn and practice some of the basics. It doesn’t matter if you’re a total beginner – the immersion in a foreign language will help you learn quickly.
Not only is it an incredibly useful skill to have, but learning the local language will also help you adjust. You’ll be able to communicate with the people you meet in everyday life, read signs, buy groceries, and function in society. It’s a rewarding feeling.
Keep in touch
It’s important you don’t isolate yourself when you first start living somewhere new. Although the temptation to become a hermit might be great, social ties are vital to help you settle in. Take time to call and message your friends and family back home.
The same is true of new connections you meet on the way. Don’t be shy to reach out to some of the people you’ve met through work or studying and see if they want to meet up or chat. The last thing you want to do is feel lonely, but sometimes you have to make the effort not to.
Prepare for culture shock and embrace it
At some point or another, you’ll likely experience culture shock. It sounds scary, but it’s really not so bad. All of the new experiences, a new culture, new people, and new food might feel a bit much at times. It’s perfectly normal, and most expats will face it at some point.
Try and lean into it. Understand what you’re going through and find ways to lift your mood. Cook some comfort food, reach out to your best friend back home, keep active, and set yourself goals. The feeling will pass. Practising mindfulness can also help get you back on track and in-tune with your emotions.
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