Back in 2011 when I moved abroad for the first time I was extremely excited but absolutely terrified at the same time. How was I going to fit in with a completely different culture compared to the laid back Aussie way of life? I barely knew anyone and had no clue what I was doing.
I’ll admit I had my fair share of lonely moments. There were times where I felt like I didn’t belong there and that I should just go home. What I now know is that it’s completely natural to feel like this. Living in a strange place, with strange people, speaking a strange language is…well…strange!
No matter how well you prepare, you’ll feel a little uneasy at times. Don’t worry though, it’s perfectly natural.
It wasn’t until I had lived in over 4 different cities in Europe that I realised there are certain things you can do to seamlessly settle in to a new city abroad.
1. Take Language Classes
I’ve always tried to take some sort of language class in each new city that I moved to. It’s helped me meet new people and make new friends instantly in a city I knew nothing about. Whether you take private speaking classes or go to a language school, taking some form of language class will help you effortlessly integrate into a new community.
Some of the advantages include:
-Making new friends
-Meeting people from all over the world
-Learning a foreign language
-Having a routine to attend classes
-Learning about the local culture
I recommend looking into different language schools before you leave your home country. Once you arrive, visit the different language schools you’ve researched, find out how much they cost, see what they offer and try to get a feel for what it would be like to study there.
2. Find Work
The best way to see live like a local is to find some sort of work. Find a job that allows you to interact with people on a daily basis and you’ll start to get a better understanding of the culture and the people. I recommend finding a hospitality job because it will offer the most opportunities to practise your language skills.
By finding work abroad you will:
-Settle into a routine
-Interact with locals
-Be able to practise speaking a foreign language
-See day to day life of the community
-Earn a wage
-Make new friends
I’ve already written a post on different ways to earn money abroad which will give you some inspiration.
One of the things that I stopped when I moved abroad was exercising. Trying to handle so many different things when you first move abroad can be overwhelming at first but it’s important not to forget to exercise!
You don’t have to do anything too difficult but make sure you’re keeping active. If you enjoy running, go for a run. If you like playing tennis, join a tennis club. If you enjoy riding your bike, buy one. I think you get my point. Just get into the routine of doing some sort of physical activity and you will feel a lot better.
By exercising you will:
-Stay fit and healthy
-Have a routine to follow
-Have a familiar activity you did back home
-Discover different parts of the city
It isn’t hard to slap on a pair of runners and go for a jog, so don’t forget to exercise!
4. Attend Local Events
There is nothing worse than going to a new country and feeling like an ‘outsider’. The best way to not feel so separated from the rest of the community is to attend local events. By doing this you will interact with others and show them that you’re interested in learning more about their community and what it has to offer.
Local events could be anything from concerts to food festivals. The great thing about these events is that everyone is generally in a good mood and happy to interact.
The main reasons to attend events are:
-Do something you normally wouldn’t do
-You won’t feel like an ‘outsider’
-Learn about a new culture
-Meet new people
You should go to your local tourism office to find out what events are coming up in the near future.
5. Integrate Activities From Home
No matter how excited you are to plunge into a completely new and exciting culture, there are times when it’s nice to have a familiar feeling to what life is like back home. What I mean by this is integrating some of the activities you did in your home country, into your daily life abroad.
-Positive familiarity from home
-Peace of mind
-Can share your skills of the activity with others
These activities can be anything such as playing sport, cooking food, eating food from your home country, surfing etc. It can be basically anything that reminds you of home.
If you try and integrate some of these tricks into your life overseas you will begin to see that life in a new city is pretty cool. You’ll stop worrying about the small and unimportant things and begin to enjoy a new culture, speaking a new language, with new people.
Implement some sort of routine into your daily life abroad and you will see how quickly you can become accustomed to a new way of life. By having a routine that is familiar, everything won’t seem so strange and foreign and you’ll begin to feel a lot more comfortable about living abroad.
Have you tried any of these methods to settle in abroad? What tricks have you used to feel at home while living overseas?