Here’s how to get in with the locals in your adopted homeland—according to those who’ve already done it.
Adjusting to life in a new country can be difficult, especially when language barriers and cultural differences are a factor. However, creating a life in an destination unfamiliar to you is by no means impossible. We asked a few expats their advice about how to best settle in when moving abroad. Here’s what they said.
1. Spark conversation
“Speak the language as much as you can, even if you’re not 100 percent confident in your skills. Locals respect that.” —Jamie Rosenfield, an American living in Argentina
2. Join a team
“Sports are a useful way for expats to integrate into their adopted communities. Because of their social nature, they build trust and cooperation. I joined a local cycling team in Kansas City, Missouri. It’s natural to chat while you’re riding, and we always find something to talk about while exploring different spots in the city.” —Bruno Silva, a Brazilian living in the United States
3. Shack up with roommates
“Find shared accommodation. Local roommates can offer tips for getting set up with a bank and phone, they will likely speak the local language with you, they can show you the cool spots in your new city, and you’ll probably notice cultural nuances you might not pick up on otherwise.” —Damien Williams, an American living in the Netherlands
4. Shop local
“Supporting local businesses is invaluable when moving to a new place. Frequenting local shops, bars, and restaurants connects you to the way people really live.” —Dan Bush, an Australian living in Slovakia
5. Host a gathering
“In France, inviting a few of your neighbors over for a drink at your house is a popular way to endear yourself. Hosting a housewarming party is a popular way to build solidarity amongst your neighbors. When you show that kind of community spirit, people reward it.” —J. Buckler, a Brit living in France
6. Be open, honest, and accepting
“Trying to ‘blend in’ isn’t the best approach when moving to a new country. Be yourself, and discuss and celebrate the differences and similarities between cultures.” —Stacie Abney, an American living in Germany
For the four essential personality traits of successful expats, read this article.