Posted on May 16, 2019 | By Isabelle Sudron
27th Nov 2018
Moving overseas may sound like an intimidating task, but with a little cunning, you can make a foreign country feel like home in no time. We’ve got 10 tops tips to make yourself feel at home in your new home country…
#1 Live like a snail
All you need in your new home country is the contents of a bag! (Or perhaps a large suitcase…) Once you realise that you only need a few special belongings to make a place feel like ‘home’, the idea of moving abroad will become much easier. You don’t need that entire wardrobe of clothes (especially if you’re moving somewhere much warmer or cooler than where you are now), piles of books or bags of trinkets. All you need is the bare necessities and a few meaningful keepsakes. Before you go, try living out of a suitcase for a week to see what you miss – that’ll help you narrow down the belongings you need to take with you.
#2 Embrace cultural differences
A sure-fire way to alienate yourself in a new place is by not embracing your cultural differences. Don’t get irritated by things that are done differently or unusual ways that people act – enjoy it! Learning about the cultural differences between you and your new neighbours can be both fascinating and fun. Differences in customs, traditions, phrases and superstitions can all be interesting conversation starters as well as a great way to learn more about the local culture.
#3 Go with the flow
Following on from our last point, once you start to notice cultural differences, following suit can help you feel at home. For example, you may politely queue at cafes at your home country, but in your new place of residence, people may push and shove in an unruly crowd. Try not to get annoyed that no one is doing things ‘your way’ or complain that there’s a ‘better way’ to do things. Get on board and join in – it’s a lot easier going with the flow than going against it!
#4 Shout about your move!
At first, it may feel a little lonely or isolated in a new country. Try sharing your experiences with others – whether that be with family and friends at home or new friends at work. You could even start a blog or journal about your new life abroad, both about living in a foreign country and teaching English overseas. That way, you can share your experiences with others and keep a record of an exciting time in your life.
#5 Learn how to get from A to B
It can be scary getting lost in an unknown place, but that’s no excuse to just follow your new friends around or get taxis everywhere. Get to know your way around town and you’ll soon find yourself enjoying exploring your new home country. You’ll likely discover the nicest neighbourhoods to wander around, the best shortcuts to places, and your favourite bars, restaurants and cafés – and it’ll be all the more rewarding because you found it yourself! You might even make new friends along the way or find a great place to live.
If your new home country uses an entirely different form of transport to what you’re used to, you’ll also need to get the hang of that. Whether that means hopping on the back of a motorbike or jumping on a train – don’t hold back. Ask your colleagues at your new English teacher job for the best way to get around to avoid making mistakes yourself.
#6 Make friends
As you likely already know, a huge part of happiness is the company you keep. Making friends in your new home country will make you feel much more at home. Not only will you have someone to go out and about with, but you’ll have someone to speak to when you’re struggling. A great way to do this is by joining clubs or groups of people with common interests – these can often be found online, on Facebook groups or on local notice boards. You can even join online groups and start to make connections before you move abroad!
It’s also important to make friends with both other foreigners and locals – both have lots to offer in different ways! As a TEFL teacher, you’ll probably find ample opportunity to meet other foreign teachers, but it may take a little effort to make local friends. You may even find that in some places the local teachers are a little reluctant to get to know you at first, but don’t take this personally – they may have seen hundreds of foreign EFL teachers come and go before. Show that you’re here to stay and that you’re interested in the local language and culture, and the locals will warm up to you in no time!
#7 Become a regular
Find somewhere that you like – be it a café, restaurant, gym or cinema – and make yourself a regular there. In time, you’ll start to recognise familiar faces, be warmly welcomed by the staff and generally feel like part of the furniture! Becoming a regular somewhere will also give you more routine which is another great way of making yourself feel at home.
#8 Get out of your comfort zone
Just because you’ve moved across the world doesn’t mean that you’re out of your comfort zone. Living in a foreign country can be just as humdrum and dull as living in your home country if you don’t make the effort to do new things. So, make sure to go and see the sights, take up some new hobbies and go to events!
#9 Learn the lingo
Learning the local language makes a huge difference to your experience living and teaching English abroad. You’ll be able to make conversations with people that you wouldn’t have been able to before and understand more of the chats going on around you. Even learning the basics will allow you to greet your neighbours, order food and buy things at shops that would have previously involved some awkward form of sign language. Joining a language exchange or language class will also give you the opportunity to socialise with other like-minded people who want to learn the language.
#10 Don’t let homesickness get you down
No matter how hard you work to make yourself feel at home, you may occasionally be hit by a wave of homesickness. Don’t let this get you down – think of all the great things you’ve done since moving to your home country and how far you’ve come. Plus, home is only a phone call away!
We hope our tips help you get settled in your new home. But don’t forget – it takes time! So, don’t kick yourself if you’re still feeling a little out of place after your first month or two teaching English overseas.
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