Whether you move to a new city in your home country or you move abroad, always keep an open mind. This is your fast lane to adjusting to the new culture. When I moved with my family to the UK I spent months struggling to accept the new surroundings and way things happen here. I went through various stages before finally ackowledging my feelings, circumstances and reality. Only then was I able to start enjoying my life abroad and even expressing a desire to build a home away from home. I exhaled all the tension, anger, differences, things and people that I missed and I inhaled the spirit of the city, its beauty, all its magical places, strange Scottish accent, naked people strolling down the street in winter time and chose to accept it all.
This is my list of MUST DO things in order to successfully adjust to your new home.
Create a home away from home – after unpacking my last bag of the endless 270 kg luggage I tried to settle into our new place. I hanged photos of home, friends and family, I decorated with candles, blankets, plants. I arranged my daughter’s room and placed all her toys around. I rearranged all rooms in our new apartment to my personal taste and decorated with things that comforted me. This helped a lot in reminding myself of all I love and helped me feel secure when still trying to settle in.
Explore the neighborhood – I opened google maps and first located myself in this new, full of opportunities city. I figured out where are the local spots where I can buy groceries, the closest parks and playgrounds, pharmacies, hospitals, nurseries, gyms and yoga studios, and hair and beauty salons. I made a plan and started exploring some of them every day. I looked into the key kids and amusement spots, zoo, botanic gardens, museums, etc. and after exploring the neighborhood I started exploring the city.
Deal with administrative issues – I researched how to apply for a GP practice for our family, how to issue a national security number, driving license and all the kind and started moving these things simultaneously. I went to see a doctor for a daughter and made a plan of how to proceed with vaccinations. I explored the procedure for making doctor’s appointment, visiting medical specialists, emergencies and the kind so that I am prepared for everything.
Join clubs and make new friends – I met my husband’s colleagues and started throwing parties at home every week. Since none of them had families with children I was desperate to find other moms with kids at my daughter’s age. At one of the immunization appointments of Mia the health care visitor gave me a list of playgroups that we could go to. They aim at gathering parents with children and offering them huge space, numerous toys and drinks for parents and children to socialize and have fun.
I started going to few such playgroups and in no time we got so many new friends. We started throwing baby parties to celebrate life and adjustment to new environment. I joined a yoga studio and started practicing yoga regularly. I was going to the gym and the swimming pool. We were regular at all my husband’s corporate parties and gatherings and got extra relations and friendships from there as well.
Join an expat community – Expat communities can be very helpful for maintaining your culture, in particular, if you’ve made a permanent move and you want to ensure ties to home are maintained.
Keep your contact with your buddies and relatives at home warm – nowadays it is an amazing opportunity to be on a viber or skype call away from your beloved ones. Send them videos and pictures, make video calls and regularly update on everything new.