So, you’ve decided to move abroad – you’ve found a place to live, and you don’t have to work ridiculously long hours. Away from friends and family, and with little to occupy yourself after unpacking, it’s time to begin life as an expat. But where do you start? Here, we’ve put together a handy guide to settling into your new country, so it’ll soon begin to feel like home.
Recognise that things may feel weird for some time
There are certain stages that come with settling into a new country, and while you’re bound to feel some sense of homesickness at some point – after all, everything is so strange – it’s important not to feel like you’ve made a mistake. Feelings of homesickness do pass, especially once you’re in a routine, so make sure you try and set one up as soon as you possibly can. This will add a sense of normality to daily life, and help you to adapt more easily. That said, allow yourself some time to take in your new surroundings – walk around the neighbourhood, visit neighbouring towns and explore – and you’ll soon begin to feel like a local.
Learn the language
Few things bring people together like a shared interest, and finding classes where you can learn the local language will certainly put you together with people in much the same situation as you are. Whilst you may have learnt some of the language before you moved, immersing yourself in the complexities of another language can only be a good thing, and even if your destination country’s primary language is English, there are sure to be some differences in how English is spoken there than in the UK.
Join in with everything you can
From forums set up specifically for expats, to local events, festivals and community groups, join in anything you can. Look at every event, group or class as an opportunity to learn more about your new home and meet like-minded people. Whether you choose to keep up with these activities after you’ve built up your social circle is up to you – but you may be surprised at how much you get out of them – and of course, as an IFA, the wider your circle of connections, the more great work you can do.
Ask lots of questions
From asking about a dish on a menu, to speaking to your local shopkeeper about great places to visit, or about the local customs around the holiday seasons, asking questions will allow you to learn about the people and the culture you’re gradually immersing yourself in. Being open and honest about things you don’t understand will also ensure that people warm to you quickly and they’ll be willing to help you settle in even better.
Finally, it’s important to be patient. Rome wasn’t built in a day and you can’t expect to feel like a local within a couple of weeks. Having said that, following the tips above will be sure to help you settle into your new home quickly and happily.