Starting over in a new country takes a lot of heart and guts. But if you’ve done it, and if you’re in Australia, you’re in for a treat!! Congrats on that, by the way!
You’ve been so brave making a huge decision to leave your home land, and then to pick a new country, and then, on top of that, you actually made it happen.
But now you’ve moved, how are you going to settle in?
The easy thing to do would be to reach out to other people from home, and move in near them. In cities all over the world, there are pockets of communities from other countries, as though picked up and placed in the new city as a group.
It makes sense, and in pre-internet years, it was probably a pre-emptive remedy to homesickness, and a way of slowly integrating into the new world, but is it still? Maybe. Living in a familiar community will help you in the short term, and will likely help you to feel more comfortable with the jump to a new country. After all, these people understand you and how it feels to be new. Plus, familiarity is important, right? Well, it can be, but it can also impede your new life in your new country.
Spending a lot of time with people from home, or only spending time in that group, might slow down the fitting in process. It will surely feel more relaxed and comfortable, eating food from home, speaking your own language and talking about familiar topics. But, as it will mean you’re living a life which is similar to what you had at home, that it could be detrimental to your new life. This is especially so if these friends haven’t moved out of that group since they arrived.
If your friends can’t speak the new language very well, and don’t have many friends from the new country, you might need to step out of your comfort zone and go your own way. In fact, your friends may tell you lots of negative things which become your viewpoint before you’ve had a chance to make up your own mind.
It doesn’t mean you can’t spend time with your compatriots, but mixing it up and meeting new people will also be advantageous. And, with technology as advanced as it is now, your family and friends are just a text or Facetime away.
Between your family back home, your fellow countrymen and new friends in your new city, you might actually have a bigger network than ever before!
That takes yet more bravery to go your own way, rather than tacking on to the life that others have started. Maybe you can then be a positive influence on these friends and show them how they could have done it when they moved, and it might give them a nudge now.
For your long term happiness, one way to go is to insert yourself into your new life as much as you can. Make the most of the opportunities which are available to you by branching out, and meeting new people. Learn what your new life can be by meeting lots of people who’ve lived there a long time and can teach you the ways of the land.
Your new country probably isn’t like yours, and there will be plenty of things which are done so differently from what you’re used to seeing and doing. Learning some of those things will be the key to fitting in, and there might be plenty that you have to learn from scratch.
Fitting in is the key to feeling as close to ‘at home’ as you did at home.
By spending time in society, at work, or out and about, you’ll accelerate your learning of the language and culture. You’ll also be able watch people and see how they do things even if you don’t have someone to ask for help or advice. There are social norms all around you, and adopting some of them will be really helpful.
In addition to making you feel comfortable, being involved will show the people around you that you’re here for good, and that you’re keen to be part of the community.
Consider how complimentary it would be to a local to see someone who makes efforts to fit in, and to learn the language, and adopt some of the things that they’re doing. They’ll be much more willing to take you under their wing and show you around the place. And what do you know? You now have a new friend!!
Friends are exactly what you need when you relocate and start a new life. You’ll be able to see life from the inside, rather than just looking through the window. By going places, being invited to their house and to parties, you’ll see the way the locals live. They’ll also give you insights into the culture of the country; just spending time together will mean you’re learning what’s important to them and to their fellow natives.
Hanging around with people from your new country will mean that you can learn the slang of the language, and the many ways that people behave around each other. You’ll be able to learn the differences in how people interact when they’ve just met someone new, in casual, more professional or formal fashions.
Whether you know the language or not, spending time with people from your new country will give you lots of insight into the way they interact with each other and who is who by the way they’re interacting.
Some of these are obvious by the language itself, as aspects of it dictate the words used. However, in others, it’s more about the body language and the way you relate to each other which demonstrate how well you know or respect the person. It’s only by practical application that you really figure out what works best. You’ll learn what’s accepted and not, and any adjustments you might like to make to integrate and get the life you want.
If you see something you don’t understand, or if you wonder why things are the way they are, ask somebody- a friend, colleague, or someone you encounter. Conversation with new people will help in so many ways, and curiosity is often rewarded with colourful explanations both entertaining and useful.
You don’t have to adopt all of the things you learn about your new country. However, understanding them and making smart choices will be extremely beneficial to helping you get the job you want, and the life you’re craving.
Marie-Louise Pawsey is the founder of Life Stylin’ which helps people to get the life they want, particularly those who’ve moved to Australia. As part of her Aussie Life Lessons, she provides insights into Australian culture, and expedites the integration of newcomers so that they can make the most of the opportunities available to them in this wide brown land we call Down Under.
You can find her at: www.lifestylin.com.au