Moving to another country to make a new life is a landmark event in anyone’s life. It is a superb opportunity and can also be a challenge. In addition to securing a livelihood you must find constructive ways to keep up your health and happiness. Here are some tried and tested techniques that are known to help.
Immigrants invariably struggle with the cultural transition. Regardless of how skilled you are at your work, the ability to interact productively ultimately defines your success. Life outside of work also demands cultural sensitivity on your part. You can orient yourself in advance of the move by reading and watching videos. However, the more important aspect of cultural adjustment is to unlearn. To successfully embed in the new culture you must discard your old cultural lens and abandon stereotypes. Keeping an open mind is fundamental.
This is the one factor which can help you blend in and make the most of your new life. In multi ethnic cities such as Berlin, Paris and New York everyone speaks the local language and is treated alike regardless of race or color. The person who starkly stands out as an outsider is the one who cannot converse in the same lingo. The ability to speak the local language fluently is like an all-access pass that can get you almost anywhere. With a little effort most people can quickly learn enough words and phrases to manage the basics, such as shopping and commute. But if you want a better quality of life you must shoot for native-like proficiency.
Check out the various attractions and distractions that your new location has to offer. Exploration can add to your vocabulary. You also absorb some culture every time you step out. By being an explorer you will have more things to talk about whenever you meet new people. Getting involved in the activities that match your interest will help keep you entertained and motivated. Choose the type of activities you like best. Sports will help you keep fit, cultural excursions will broaden your horizon and social engagements can help you find new friends.
Try out different types of food and drink, especially the ones you’re unfamiliar with. There is a good chance you’ll like some of them. If you discover something you strongly dislike you will have an informed opinion after you have tried it. Food is an important aspect of culture and an excellent topic of conversation when meeting new people.
One of the issues with relocating is that it becomes difficult to keep in touch with old friends. This applies more when you move to a different time zone. Most immigrants experience a phase of homesickness at some point. To deal with it you require a new set of friends. A healthy social calendar can help beat that sinking feeling. If you are one of those shy personalities who take time to come out of your shell, a good starting point is to go to events meant for expats. Eventually you should aim to have a small group of close local friends. These are the right people to properly educate you in local etiquette and customs.
You can observe a lot simply by watching. Social settings are the perfect places to understand the finer points of culture through observation. How formally or casually do people behave when they meet someone for the first time? Is it different with locals and expats? What personal traits does this culture value more? What topics of discussion are more popular? Are people punctual or relaxed? You may find yourself in the perfect position to make sense of the cultural nuances of your new location by contrasting them with your previous one. Hopefully you can learn a lot by observing from others’ mistakes and avoid making some of your own.
Your closest friends are probably the ones you have known since childhood. Making new friends as an adult takes time, especially as an outsider. Be persistent and don’t give up. If you need motivation, simply call up an old friend for a chat. Have high self-worth and remember that anyone will be as lucky to be your friend as you will, to become theirs.