Adapting Socially to Living in a Foreign Country

Moving to a new country is many things – exciting, frightening, aggravating, inspiring, educational, and more.  Every culture has its own rhythms and customs. Learning what they are and what is expected of you is often a challenge. Your personality will determine how quickly and how well you adjust.

Here are some tips to help you:

Learn the Language

If you are moving to a country where your language is not spoken, spend some time learning the language of your new home.  Becoming proficient takes time, but being able to ask simple questions and be polite in a new language does not.  Take the time to learn at least a few simple phrases.  Also, learn how people expect to be greeted. That will go a long way to gaining their willingness to help you. 

Do Your Homework Before it’s Due

Find out as much as you can before you leave.  Study the place you are going, talk to people who have been there and, if possible, find people who are from there and talk with them.  Challenge stereotypes by keeping an open mind and heart.  Above all, remind yourself that it is going to be different. That is probably one of the reasons you are going.  Expecting differences will help you when you are actually facing them.

Keep a Journal

Writing down your experiences before you leave and once you arrive will help you keep things in perspective and help you to reflect on what you are experiencing.  If possible, keep expectations low. Meet experiences as they come.  It is amazing to experience different cultures, a gift that broadens our perspective and abilities.  But there will be times when your frustration levels with the differences from your own culture will eclipse the gift part.

Prepare as best you can, then go and experience the reality! And be willing to accept that the reality may not match your expectations.

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