By Dominey Flores | Originally Submitted On March 31, 2011
So, here you are in a new country and what is to be your home for the next few decades. You had finally packed your bags, sold whatever property you owned, and made the daunting, and emotionally, and financially stressful process of relocating to a completely foreign land. Perhaps, you moved here to get away from the social conflict that pervades your home country, or maybe you scored an awesome job, or wanted to raise your family in a country that offers better future prospects and security? Whatever your reason(s) for migrating, one thing is clear: you are now in unknown territory.
The people here speak with funny accents, and drive on the opposite side of the road. There is only one theme park in the entire country, and the Mac Donald Big Mac Burger is tiny. On the upside, you love your new job, and the carefree lifestyle. You love how you can go for walks around your neighbourhood at night without feeling like you are being followed. It amazes you that complete strangers smile at you at the traffic lights – and not in a: I-am-going-to-hijack-you-in-a-second kind of way; lo and behold not a gun in sight! But…You miss home. You miss your family and friends. You miss your favourite steak house restaurant or that cool boutique that stocks only one of kind clothing. You miss the theme parks and the music… Before you spiral further into the depths of your Post-Migrating Blues, read the following tips on how you can fully enjoy the perks that your new home can offer.
1. Mix and mingle with the locals, and make a genuine effort to get to know the local culture, customs, and language.
While it is great to connect with people from the same country and cultural background as your own, the best and fastest way to get to know a country, its’ customs, and its’ people is to mix and mingle with those who know it best – the locals. Step out of your social comfort zone. Speak to people who have lived in the country for aeons and who you meet in every day social settings i.e. your local café or butcher. If your English (or whatever language is spoken there) is a bit rusty – then make an effort to improve your English-speaking skills and that brings us back to mixing and mingling with the locals. Remember: one of the greatest obstacles to fully embracing, appreciating, and enjoying your new found home is cultural/social isolation; see this as your chance to make friends, widen your social network, and encounter new experiences.
2. Make use of the new opportunities and avenues that are now available to you and put that fantastic business or hobby related idea into action.
Perhaps, you have been treasuring a brilliant idea for a business venture or a hobby of some sort but did not have access to the resources and facilities in your country of origin to get the ball rolling. Well, now is the perfect time to test the waters. There are countless tales of migrants who have had immense entrepreneurial success in their new country. Migrants have the advantage of a ‘fresh perspective’ on commercial novelties and attractions that may be wanting locally. Learn to observe, travel extensively to and from cities/towns on your days off, sample what is on offer, and most importantly speak to people about what they wish they had more of. For all you know, your idea-in-the-making may just be the next big on the tourist trail! So, rather than succumbing to your nostalgia, focus on the doors that have opened up to you!
3. Seek constant inspiration from your new surroundings and revive your curiosity!
Moving to a new country is a stressful and demanding process therefore it is no surprise that many people who decide to take the leap often land bleary eyed, and ‘pushed for time’. One of the easiest emotions to lose during the migration process is curiosity. Once you fall back into the steady and predictable routine of work, you become more vulnerable to stress and boredom, which may then lead to ruminating about the ‘comforts of home’, and what we have dubbed the Post-Migrating Blues. If you suddenly find yourself wallowing in the depths of your homesickness (perhaps you miss your friends, or that fabulous steak house, or awesome boutique that stocked the most beautiful shoes, just around the corner from where you used to live) then try the following activity:
On your next day off from work, venture out with your camera to a place you have never visited before. It could be a museum, art gallery, or landmark; or even a restaurant, or boutique. Alternatively, you can embark on some kind of adrenaline-pumping adventure (i.e. bungee jumping, white-water rafting, tree-climbing etc.) and take A LOT of pictures. Make sure to keep your eyes wide open and your senses alert. Completely immerse yourself in whatever activity you choose to take up. Then, when you return home, write about your experience(s) – and pretend that you are trying to convince a relative or friend to fly over for a visit. If you like, you can email/post what you have written to that special person.
The purpose of this activity is to help you revive your curiosity towards your new surroundings and hopefully, gain some inspiration along the way. Often times, newcomers to a country may feel uninspired and run down from the moving process itself, local exploration can help shake you out of that phase.
One of the most important things to bear in mind when starting a new life in a foreign country is to remember why you moved there in the first place. For instance, if you moved for the benefit of your family, then always make a point of noticing the positive aspects of that country which you believe will provide your family with a better lifestyle, education etc. While it is OK to feel frustrated, stressed-out, and homesick, do not let these emotions close your eyes to the wonderful opportunities that have suddenly come your way. In the end, it is all about perspective so make sure that yours is as bright as the future you have envisioned.
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