How to Feel at Home in a New Country
Moving across the world can easily be the most exciting time of your life. But when the excitement fades, it is normal to go through a period of loneliness and feel as if you don’t belong. Thankfully, there are some simple things you can do to counter these feelings and truly make the best out of your adventure abroad.
As an expat, one of the problems you must deal with is the unfamiliarity of relocating to a new country. After moving abroad, when you walk into a busy mall or drive around an unfamiliar city you may miss the place that you came from. You will long for familiar faces, places, and even the weather you were used to from your old home. This “fish out of water” feeling lasts longer for some people than others, but it is a very common reaction to a new environment.
In the beginning, socializing can feel uncomfortable or forced, especially if people are struggling to understand your accent. Meeting people can be difficult, and creating real personal connections can be even harder. In these situations, it is important to recognize that the only person who can make this new place start to feel like home is you. You must make a conscious effort to train your brain into thinking of this new place as somewhere you belong. A great tip to begin this process is to pick a couple places in your new area, such as a gym or restaurant, and visit them often. You will begin to see some of the same faces, and the environment will start to seem less intimidating.
Go on Adventures
Whether walking or driving, go to these specific places you have chosen regularly. After a few weeks, start taking different routes, and begin exploring short cuts. You will discover other places in the neighborhood that are on the way to the places you regularly visit. Make a point of stopping by the coffee shop down the street, or checking out a little boutique on a certain day of the week. Once people start to recognize you, it is easier to gain the confidence to chat and make friends. Although it may be awkward at first, attend any events that these places hold. Don’t give up when you feel uncomfortable and in time conversations will begin to flow and you will even begin to make friends. Putting yourself out there is the best way to ensure that you will enjoy your time in the new place that you live.
Don’t let homesickness control you
If you are struggling with loneliness or homesickness, know that it doesn’t last forever and that you have the potential to control those feelings.
Decide this is your home
The first step of getting over homesickness is to tell yourself that this new place is your home. Try not to approach the moving process as if your new home is temporary, even if it is. That mindset will only hold you back and give your subconscious mind a reason to not connect with people.
Fake it till you make it
Choose an establishment that you frequently visit, join an activity group, or take a class. Even if you do not have conversations or create relationships right off the bat, do not despair. Force yourself to return again and again until you are able to join into conversations. Do not be discouraged, stay consistent, and you will eventually get to know people.
Get to know your area
Your stress levels are higher in an unfamiliar environment. Make a point to discover new places and get out of your home so that your brain recognizes the surrounding area, putting itself at ease.
Learn history and culture
Seek to learn everything you can about the history of your new home by asking people you meet, or searching on the internet. Pay close attention during social interactions, and don’t be afraid to ask about the culture of the area as well. Consider a cross-cultural training program or class to familiarize yourself with the cultural variances, customs and taboos of your new home.