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How to Adapt to a New Country, Culture and Language

Adapting to a new country as an adult can be more challenging than expected. However, the joy of embracing a new culture and language usually outweighs the difficulties. When moving to an unfamiliar place, there are many things you can do to adapt before and after your move. My i-Learner colleagues and I have got plenty of experience of moving between cultures as we love learning about the world. Here are some tips I hope will help you:

Be Prepared for Culture Shock

When you go to a new country, you’ll likely experience culture shock. Typically, when you plan a move, the country you’re moving to will seem like a dream, yet when you arrive, things may not be as expected. Keeping an open mind will prepare you for this, and recognising it’s normal will help you settle in.

Language

Being in another country, you may also need to learn a new language. One of the benefits of living in another country is that you can learn a new language more quickly by immersing yourself in it. Begin by learning the basics, such as an alphabet system, if there is one, and common phrases used in day-to-day life. The ability to communicate even just a little with locals can help you assimilate. Try ordering from a menu, asking for directions and observing signs when you are out and about. With technology, it’s possible to find online language exchanges where you teach a person your native language whilst they teach you theirs. There are also translation apps and language classes for adults to help during the transition.

Cultural Integration

Besides language barriers, adapting to a new culture is tricky, especially if your home culture is very different. The public holidays and other festivals you’re used to may not be celebrated at all. A positive aspect of this is that you now have a chance to embrace and experience new cultural elements. Visit local galleries and museums and walk around traditional streets. Learn about the history and culture, and try different food. Sharing these things with your new community is a wonderful way to bond, and many people will enjoy learning about your culture in return.

Social Integration

When arriving in a new country, making friends can be one of the biggest challenges. To make new friends, you need to find opportunities to meet new people. Consider signing yourself up for a class or joining a club where you’re likely to meet new people. If you have children, join the parents’ association or pick them up after school and meet other parents. You can also volunteer for a local charity or event. Volunteering can be rewarding, and through it, you’ll meet locals and learn about the culture and language.

Remembering your home

When you’re away from your home country, it’s natural to feel homesick. Continue celebrating and doing your favourite things from home to retain a sense of familiarity. This may mean cooking and eating the same food, keeping your holiday traditions, or watching and reading things from your home town. Just because you’re away from home, you don’t have to give up your connection to it. The less homesick you feel, the easier it will be to embrace and adapt to a new culture or language.

Getting Support

Adapting to a new place can be overwhelming, and there are many resources out there to support you. i-Learner and our Overseas Education Services team have experience helping children and their families transition to new countries. Speak to someone about your move to get the best out of it by calling us on 3113 8815.