It’s one thing to travel, but quite another to move to another country. Although it is an adventure and very rewarding to live as an expat, it is also very challenging. You have to go through a lot of bureaucracy to get a visa.
You also need to deal with getting health insurance such as Cigna International Health to stay healthy. Then there is the challenge of making friends and integrating into your new community.
When you cannot make friends and feel like a part of the fabric of your new home, you will feel homesick and wonder if you made the right choice. However, it isn’t hopeless. You can integrate when you have a plan and put it into place. This article will review several tips to help you fit in and get the most out of your new home.
1 – Learn the language
In your new country, language is the glue of society. If you don’t understand what people are saying or can’t express yourself, you will be locked out of that society. The only way to properly integrate is to learn the language.
Once you understand what people are saying, you suddenly start to feel comfortable, can navigate the culture, and feel like you’re home. Learning a new language, especially as an adult, can be daunting.
You must think about taking baby steps to pick up the language slowly. Even if you can only speak a few words or phrases, making an effort to communicate in the local language can go a long way in building relationships with locals and feeling more connected to your new community.
Most countries offer new arrivals free or discounted language classes to boost their integration chances. Look for classes in your area and make an effort to take them. You’re fortunate to be able to use what you learn right away daily, so the learning should go quickly.
2 – Make friends with locals
When you are learning the language and don’t speak that well, you might feel like getting to know your neighbors is impossible. However, you should attempt to make some friends, even if you don’t speak the same language.
You can often make connections with others by trying. For instance, if you baked some cookies, offer some to your neighbors as a show of friendship. This will create an opportunity to feel like you are part of their life, even in a small way.
Over time, while you develop your language skills, you can often become better friends and have more meaningful connections. For instance, if you have a local coffee shop, make sure to practice some of the language lessons you’ve learned with the workers there and over time, they will get to know you.
3 – Understand the local customs and etiquette
Every culture has its customs and etiquette; understanding and respecting these can go a long way in building relationships with locals. Making mistakes is okay, as people will understand that you don’t know how they do things. However, when you try to learn, you will be seen as somebody worth getting to know.
Research your new home’s cultural norms and traditions and try to follow them as best you can. For instance, in some countries, it is customary to take your shoes off when you enter somebody’s home. If you don’t do this the first time, you will be forgiven. However, the second time you do it will likely mean no other invites.
Being aware of these customs and following them can show locals that you are trying to understand and respect their culture.
4 – Get involved in the local community
The local community where you are now setting yourself up is your community. You may feel like an outsider for some time, but you must remember that what happens around you affects you as much as it does the locals. This means you should guide things to work as you would like.
Getting involved in the community will also show the locals that you are away for a few months and then off on a new adventure. You are there for the long haul, and they will be more inclined to invest in and cultivate a relationship.
Joining clubs, groups or organizations in your new community can help you meet people with similar interests and make new friends. Volunteer work is another great way to get involved and positively impact your new community.
Integrating is a long and frustrating experience. Sometimes, it seems like you will never fit in where you end up. However, with these tips and enough determination, you will feel just a local one day. After all, you get out what you put in so make sure to not give up!