Updated: Jan 8
It is very important to meet and get to know people in your host country, especially in your neighborhood. In my old post <Five things for expats>, I put “Get to know someone who is living in the country/area” as the first step in your To-Do list.
Why is it important?
First, in a new country, there are so many things you don’t know and you need to search to get information. Name and location of grocery stores, good family doctor/pediatrician, how garbage collection system works, etc. If you know one person who lives in the area longer than you do (he/she doesn’t have to be a local person), he/she can provide all the information you need. It can be a reference point and you can search more once you feel you settle down.
Second, I believe that the sense of belonging and/or finding a wonderful community is the key to success of adjusting into a new country. It can be your community group, activity/hobby group, or great friends.
How can you meet new people?
>Introduce yourself to your neighbors. Bring your family members and ideally a small gift from your home country. Tell them where you are from, you and your family members’ names (and age for kids if applicable). Your small gift can be a conversation starter.
>If you live in a house with a front lawn or garden, try to spend as much time as possible there (you can clean up and/or weed so many hours!). In that way, you can meet other neighbors who walk their dogs, jog and drive around. Often, they recognize you are a new neighbor. I met one of our neighbors who knows a person from Japan in the town. And she contacted her, and I get to know a wonderful Japanese woman! Also, I met a couple of other nice neighbors in that way.
>It is a great way to meet like-minded people by joining a volunteer group or doing any volunteer work. You can ask your neighbors if he/she knows how to find a local volunteer opportunity. By asking this to your neighbor, he/she will know your interest and it can be a great conversational topic. It is also great to join an online volunteer group if it interests you. I have joined an online support group which provides a hotline service for a Japanese who live overseas. The volunteers live all over the world so I won’t meet most of them in person, and it is impossible to get together even online due to the time difference. However, our connection is very strong and I love them so much.
>Also, Meetups, Adult Schools, and Community Colleges are wonderful ways to meet new people. Adult schools are initially founded and designed for people who haven’t finished high school, but they usually open to the public. You might find ESL (English as a second language) classes in an adult school.
>You can also meet people online such as Craigslist and other sources.
You have to be careful when you join a group and meet new people especially if you meet people online, however, it is very possible to meet wonderful people and build a new community for you.
I've heard a great word. It encourages me to take a new step. So I'd like to give it to you.
YOU CANNOT MAKE A MISTAKE
Any choice you make brings a lesson, an opportunity and/or a great result. If you don’t make a choice, you don’t get any of them.
If you are interested in talking about your expat life, concerns, challenges, and opportunities, please book a FREE session from here → https://www.interculturalcandc.com/book-online
I would love to hear your story.