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Expat Worries – How to Establish a Social Life Abroad
Moving abroad isn’t easy. However exciting the thought of creating a new life in a new country is, your mind will always be clouded with doubt. You find yourself asking the same questions over and over again.
“What if I hate my job?”
“Will I make new friends?”
“Will I miss my family?”
That’s why we ‘ve decided to create a series dedicated to helping you overcome those worries. In part one, we’ll talk about what you should do to start building a social life in your new home.
Establishing A Social Life Abroad
The biggest concern for most people moving abroad is undoubtedly a social one. Making new friends isn’t always easy, . Even if you don’t see your friends or family everyday, the thought of having them there when you need them is a mental cushion that allows you to live your life more comfortably. Relocate to a foreign land and that cushion disappears, and you truly are left to fend for yourself in a place where you might not be totally comfortable.
However, there are a number of things you can do to make sure the process goes as smoothly as possible.
Learn the Language
Even though a large number of people can now speak English in any country, you shouldn’t be relying on it to start making friends. Though you might be okay in a place like the UAE or Qatar, if you’re moving to somewhere like Thailand, you’re going to struggle incredibly if you insist on speaking English wherever you go. Even if you only know a few words, it’ll be incredibly useful in starting to build relationships with people, and getting things done. If you’re moving for work, your employer may offer free language lessons as part of your contract, which you should definitely capitalise on. The internet is a treasure trove of resources for learning too, with programmes like Rosetta Stone offering comprehensive syntax and grammar lessons, and apps like HelloTalk allowing you to engage with real people who’ll teach you their native language in exchange for you teaching them theirs. An overwhelming 71% of expats said they were happier in countries where they could speak the language, and with so many ways to learn, there really is no reason for you to go in uninitiated.
Find your social group
Do you like playing tennis or badminton? Maybe you like to engage in theatre, or crafting. Whatever your interests are, it’s more than likely you’ll be able to find an activity group to become a part of and start to build friendships around. If you’re able to engage in activities that you would have in your own country, it’ll make you feel much more at home wherever you’re moving to as well. Check out expat forums and Facebook groups, read local newspapers (this is where your new language skills will come in handy), or ask your new work colleagues about things that are going on in your area. The most important thing is to keep putting yourself in situations where you’re liking to be able to speak to new people. That should make it a lot easier to make friends.
Try New Things
Remember, you were willing to move abroad because you were willing to open yourself up to new experiences. So go ahead and act on that! Try cuisines you’ve never tried before. Seek out local events and go to them on your own. You’re more than likely to find people doing the same, and be able to strike up conversations with them. If you have children, ask them to bring their new friends over, and take the opportunity to speak to their parents. Expand your notion of what your friend group should look like. Maybe the elderly lady who lives next door has some particular wisdom to share, or one of your younger co-workers can take you out for a night on the town. Similarly, there might be people that aren’t willing to talk to you. Get over that fear of rejection and focus on those people who are willing to make time for you. As long as you’re open minded and ready to try, you’ll find everything else falls into place.
That’s all for this week. Next time we’ll talk about how to get over homesickness, and what to do when you’re missing your family and friends back home.
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