Five Tips for Expat Integration

5 February 2019

Integrating yourself into a new country, culture and workplace as an expat can be a challenging experience, especially for those who are travelling for their partner’s new job position. Getting settled into your new surroundings is an essential step to feeling at home and that you belong in your new surroundings.


1 - Prepare beforehand

As with many things in life, preparation is key. Before you move to your new home, do plenty of research on the local culture and customs. Testimonials and the experiences of those who have already made the same move can be an invaluable insight into the difficulties you might face. Don’t just think about what the first few weeks or month will be like, consider what your opportunities and life will be like in the years to come.


Once you’ve learnt all about your new home-to-be, it’s crucial that you consider whether you can actually live there happily. Be realistic with yourself, and think whether you will be able to live the way you want with your own attitudes and life choices. If this is not going to be the case, then the move may not be for you, and could severely impact your mental health and quality of life.


2 - Stay social

Being social can be difficult in new and unfamiliar surroundings, especially for those of us who are more introverted. However, putting yourself out there and making new friends is an essential step if you want to integrate yourself into your new home properly. A strong support network can be a real boost when times are tough, and you need help or reassurance.


There are now many apps and websites such as InterNations and Meetup that are dedicated to helping people get together and make new friends. The great thing about these is that they are global, meaning that you can sign up and start getting involved before you even move. You can also look to see if your employer runs any similar social events to help get newbies better integrated.


3 – Learn the language

The language barrier can be a significant issue for many expats and learning the local tongue may seem like an insurmountable task depending on where in the world you’ve moved. You can get by with English in many countries, but in the long term, learning the local speak is best, even if it’s just a little. Once you start trying to use the language whenever you can, you’ll be surprised at how fast you’re able to pick it up.


You can, of course, take some lessons and begin your learning well before you make the move. Supplement these by watching some local TV channels and downloading a few language apps so that you can start getting a feel for day-to-day usage. Not only will knowing some of the language make your life easier, but expats who at least try to communicate in local speak are often more welcomed and appreciated.


4 – Live like a local

When moving to a new country, it’s easy to retreat into a bubble and try to replicate as many of your home comforts as possible, but this can also be dangerous. Try and create a home away from home at the expense of opportunities to integrate and experience a new way of life. You have moved abroad, after all, so you might as well see what your new country has to offer.


Let go of your preconceived notions of the country and be curious. Eat the local food, watch the local television, and attend the local cultural events. Many nations have festivals and holidays that few outsiders have never even heard of, so seek out the surprises and go with the flow.


5 - Take your time

Finally, you need to recognise that no matter the amount of preparation, socialising, language learning, and exploring you do, you’re just not going to feel at home right away. Settling into new surroundings takes time and is something that cannot be rushed. Get into a new routine of work, socialising, and talking to friends and family from home where possible. Find a balance of everything that lets you experience the culture and live your best expat life.




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