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20 Tips to Feel At Home In a New Culture


Be open to new experiences, activities...

You may end up someplace with very different resources, and activities. For example, if you live in a big city with lots of public transportation, and you move to a suburb where you must rely on a car. Or, maybe the gym is now several towns away, instead of down the street. Be open to trying new activities – perhaps there’s a nature trail by your house so you can hike, instead of going to the gym. Maybe your town has a quarterly festival, and you can volunteer to cook something. Always be open to, and on the lookout for, new ways to integrate into the community. It will help you make more friends, and you might just find a new hobby you enjoy!


Research cultural rituals...

Make sure you understand any important traditions of your host city. For example, Japan has levels of bowing. France and many other Western European cities have different levels of formality woven into their languages. Time and punctuality are often treated very differently between cultures. It’s important that you understand and respect significant cultural behaviors in order to be accepted and set your expectations.


Be brave enough to make mistakes...

If you move to another country, learning the local language is important for communicating basic needs, but even more important to develop friendships. However, don’t fall into “The Perfect Language Trap”. The one who will be most insulted by your language mistakes is – YOU. Most foreigners I’ve met have been delighted that I at least tried to speak their language, even if I butchered it. You immediately receive compassion, some language tips, and someone who will be glad to help you as you transition. Also, I began some of my best friendships with hilarious language blunders. Remember, laughter is a very bonding experience!


Just ask...

If you need help or information, just ask. Even if it means talking to total strangers. For example, if you see someone coming out of a restaurant you’re curious about, dare to ask them how they liked the food, or if they would recommend the place. Most people will be glad to give you honest feedback, and you could learn some unexpected tips. If you’re shy, you need to step outside your comfort zone a bit to meet people and get tips, especially if you have kids. You’ll need to meet local parents so you can help your children make new friends.


Manage your relationships...

Relocating will shift your core relationships. If you’re married, one of you will most likely be following the other. In this instance, the trailing spouse may change from money-earner to dependent. The trailing spouse normally sacrifices more than the one who has a job. You may also have to sacrifice common goals you had back home and recreate new ones. Be sensitive to each other’s needs, work together to be supportive of possible resentment, and then create strategies to move forward. The same goes if you have children – encourage open feedback and ideas.

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