Top 5 Tips for Acclimating to a New Country

Authored by:
Helen S.

Moving across the world to an entirely new place without knowing anybody or anything about your surroundings can seem intimidating. Being able to smoothly and easily adapt and adjust to your new home is key in ensuring that you'll have the best time possible there!

Tune In

All you want to do upon arrival in your host country and new home is to totally veg out and let your previously anxiety-ridden brain turn into grey mush. You can and should do this- and you can even do it productively! Tune in to the top local channels for your new country and try to watch the local news in the morning, or popular prime-time shows in the evening. This is a great activity to do with your host family to understand their interests or to do alone to get a better understanding of the culture via media. If you're not in the mood to keep your eyes open (totally understandable) it's a good idea to listen to local radio stations or to check the Spotify Top 50 for your host country. Finding and understanding popular music and media in your new country will help you adjust to your new surroundings and better relate to the new people that you'll meet!

Eat Out

Head out with new friends or with your host family to popular local restaurants to try some of the most common and well-liked dishes of the area. Ask your host family, or your friends if their locals, where their favorite spot to eat is and what they like to order for their meal. Be open to trying new foods and order many dishes with a big group to get a taste of everything! Smaller is better, as smaller solo restaurants will give you a more genuine glimpse into the life of a local in your new home. Remember to leave room for dessert!

Rinse Off

Visit the local supermarkets and pharmacies to see all the different products and read all the different names that you may not even be able to pronounce (yet!) Be honest with yourself, and know that the 43-in-one travel size you brought with you will not and should not be used the entire trip. Buy local shampoos, conditioners, and soaps from the shop with interesting ingredients and pretty packaging. You'll only be here a few months, so why not splurge on smelling nice the whole time? Often, in countries outside the US, products are made locally and in smaller batches so you'll be getting a quality product that's been created locally. There's no better way to feel like a local than to smell like one, plus you can usually put any extra in your checked luggage to use back home and reminisce on your amazing time abroad. 

Tune Out

Engage in the low-tech activities that your new home has to offer and gain some insight into what the locals like to do during their time off. Ask your family and friends what the most interesting and popular nearby attractions are, and ask for insider tips to make the most of the experience. Hiking or heading out to a well-known beach or lake are great activites to get yourself outside and into the fresh and foreign air. Even walks around your new neighborhood can be helpful in understanding the natural elements of your host country. However, if the weather isn't ideal for outdoor recreation, stay inside and visit local bookshops, libraries or museums to get a quieter understanding of intelectually important espects of your country's culture. Gain a deeper understanding of a country's history first-hand, and dive into a country's literary interests head-first. Reading a book from your new country in your target language will help you immerse yourself in the culture and understand the interests of your peers! 

Eat In

After busy and likely long days out and about with your school, family or friends, enjoying a home-cooked meal is a dream and a great way to connect with your host family and to understand the eating habits in your new home. If you're interested in cooking something yourself, head to the supermarket and find whatever's fresh to try your hand at a local dish. Incoorporate elements of your home country and your new country to find a happy medium and create a dish that allows everyone to try something new. If you're hesitant about taking on such a mighty task, consider asking your host family to whip up one of their favorite meals and offering to help and learn. Often, the local's do it best and you will be able to experience a meal unlike anyother, while at the same time connecting with your host family.

Remember to keep your mind open when it comes to new things abroad- you don't have to like it, but you should try it at least one. Be honest with your feelings about behaviours, traditions and activities, but do so politely. You'll have the most fun if you take everything as it comes and try not to let yourself be too judgemental. Everything will be different! That's the fun part!

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