We, as humans possess a certain hunger for travel, for discovery, and for adventure, yet a thirst for the known and familiar. Of course, it was difficult leaving my family, but in my first six months of living abroad, I realized that you can make just about anywhere feel like home if you make an effort.Whether you are in a new country for a week, a year, or even longer, I encourage you to throw yourself in head first and live like the locals do. Be eager to soak up everything there is to know about your new city, culture, and way of life. Bring a half-full suitcase so you can fill it up with treasures of your new country when (or if) you return to your roots.
Follow these tips for a smooth transition instead of a rocky road into a new culture.
1. Let go of expectations
2. Be open to new experiences
Challenge yourself to step outside of your comfort zone early and often. I’ve come to realize if you are always stuck inside a warm, cozy box, you are doing life wrong!
Truly. If you are constantly glued to your phone and social media, how do you expect to enjoy the present moment, in the here and now? Designate events without wifi or texting. Wait until down time before bed to choose an instagram filter. Look up, down, and all around. There is a beautiful world surrounding you, just waiting to be explored.
4. Meet new people
When you travel, you are inevitably forced to let people and places go. As silly as it seems, I encourage you to talk to strangers! Take the opportunity to smile and engage with the people around you. Whether it’s locals or other travellers and expats, the knowledge you will gain from meeting people from all walks of life is invaluable.
Take in the new sights, new foods, new people, and new ways of doing things. Join expat meetups, sports teams, or hobby groups to find others you can relate to on a deeper level. Want the best food around? Fun entertainment options? The locals will tell you exactly where the hot spots are, likely better suggestions than UrbanSpoon or TripAdvisor will ever provide.
5. Do all the touristy things
Explore it all while you have the chance. I’ve taken on the Harbour Bridge Climb, toured the Sydney Opera House, and am soon to visit the Taronga Zoo, things many Sydney natives have never experienced.
6. Don’t sweat the small stuff
7. Be flexible
8. Go broke
9. Bring your own culture (BYOC)
Most countries don’t make as huge of a deal of holidays as we do in America. My Aussie friends had never experienced Thanksgiving before, so of course we had to rally together for a Yanksgiving feast. I made it a potluck to get everyone involved. Although they were hesitant to try their hands at the casseroles, stuffing, and pumpkin pie which were so foreign to them, they stepped outside of their comfort zone just as I do every day. I was so proud with the results!
10. Make your new physical space home
To my fellow expats: how do you make your new country feel like home?