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I left my country! And now what do I do?

friendship, traveling, travel, friendshipday, croatia, international

How do I keep the contact with my friends and make new ones?

During several moments in the life of a nomad, expat, digital nomad or just a continuous traveler, we find ourselves submerged in effective memories. It’s normal to feel this way.

I believe that what surrounds us is the thoughts of how to keep our friendships or how not to be alone in our new destination.

On the occasion of the World Day of Friendship we took the time to talk a little bit about what to do when we see ourselves in a different country, with a different culture and often with a different language. Below you will find some nice ways to change the situation! Follow me!

A good tip to adapt yourself better in a new place is to find out about the habits of the country that you are going to. One of the biggest problems I realized is the routine. Those who are not newcomers do not know our difficulties. How about looking for people who are in the same situation?

Where to look? Nowadays, that the world is so well-connected, social media is a great way to network and find new groups. It can be a great start. Believe me, whenever I go to a new country I look for groups of the same nationality, people who speak the same language or who have the same interests. There are many groups divided by sports and even activities in common. I once met a group of people who came together to help each other on the challenge of how to clean the house with the variety of unknown products the new country offered.

A new country could mean a world of discoveries. Who better to talk than people who have been through it? Already, in this first contact we can discover many people with the same affinities, same routines and challenges. These people end up becoming our circle of friendship.

Language schools are also good places to bond with people in the same situation. Besides being very good to learn a new language, the local language can open many doors.

In some countries, these classes are free, subsidized by the government or cheap. It is worth checking.

Another nice tip: find out when are the national holidays! Many cities have a very nice cultural calendar. Promoting meetings with locals and expats, whether they are from work, friends of friends or someone you just met. It can also help you to know more about the culture and integrate yourself better in the new place.

Besides, many people are willing to help a foreigner and it could result in a beautiful friendship.

Backpacking in South America
Backpacking in South America

What about my friends who are at my home country? Usually it is cool to send photos and videos, funny little stories and events.

This helps our friends and family know how we are doing. Besides, it can always encourage them to come to visit. Which is always a delight!

Nowadays we can say that our circle of friendship is international and wherever we go we will have company. Being nomad has its advantages.


How about you, tell us what challenges you have already encountered in making new friends! 

Check our Instagram for the chance to win a Rafiki bracelet!

Written by Tábata Martín

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How Can Compatriots Help You In Your Successful Integration?

Moving abroad may be quite challenging. There are so many things to learn, to understand, nearly to re-build your life and integrate into the new society.

Basically, the successful integration involves two moves: * to blend in with the new society + * to preserve its own origins.

Building a social circle and searching for a support definitely, helps to integrate into a new country. It may sound counterintuitive at first sight, but connecting to your compatriots or other expats could be very beneficial for you and your further integration.

These are the people who went through the same process of expatriation, as you are doing now. Moreover, they might have the same cultural background as you do. So who can understand you as a migrant better, than your compatriot or other fellow expats? In a nutshell, you are in the same boat.

Many years ago, gathering together with compatriots abroad was almost essential for the “survival”. The community of compatriots carried out multiple important functions: finding a first job, renting a house or apartment, sharing food, giving advice and tips about the new country etc. So one of the first things to do when arriving in a new country was searching for people of the same origin.

Today, the situation is not the same anymore, the people can find jobs remotely and many are moving abroad having at hand a work contract. The same goes for the studies, where students can register to the university and arrange a lot of formalities before they actually move abroad. Even if a person arrives in a new country spontaneously, it is much easier to find most of the necessary information online.

Nowadays, people don’t need the compatriots for the so-called “survival” in a new country, but the same community of compatriots plays a new role. Firstly, it helps to deal with the feeling that you are a stranger abroad (even if the intensity of such a feeling differs largely from the hosting country). And secondly, such community serves as the main transmitter of your culture.

Which benefits do I get when connecting to compatriots or other expats?

  • Learning from experience of others

Keeping the social contact to the people who share your origins helps you to feel more confident and self-aware. These people are the ones who can not only understand better than anyone the experiences you are going through when setting up in a new country. These are also the people who are facing the similar challenges. Moreover, with the help of the others, you can avoid numerous mistakes, that most of the newcomers make. You can get a quicker grasp of how the “new” system works and, thus, significantly simplify your daily life.

  • Exchange

There are so many things to share in such a community. The exchange of traditions, customs, food recipes, movies, books, addresses where they sell products from your homeland…

It all helps to re-discover yourself and to enrich your culture. Let’s say you didn’t care too much about the folk music from your native country or didn’t appreciate enough your local cuisine. Well, it can easily turn out, that through the community of compatriots you’ll get a fresh view on your culture, (re-)awaken the curiosity to your own country.

DSC_0746

  • Language

When you are not using the language, you are gradually losing the grasp of it. Even if you moved abroad as an adult, your language literacy and eloquence can degrade in no time. Communicating with people who speak your language helps to prevent this, especially if you combine it with reading the books written in your language.

More than that, when moving abroad with kids, as parents, we want them to preserve their language. For example, meeting compatriots enables families to organize playdates for kids.

  • Meet-ups

Meet-ups help to build a community, and the community multiplies the benefits of the connection to your origins. Together you can organize trips to the places related to your home. Or why not promoting and introducing your culture to the country you live in? You can plan a thematic dinner to share the national dishes or to celebrate your national holidays. Or what about organizing a musical band, playing national musical instruments, folk dance club, etc.? The ideas for cooperation are countless.

Testimony from Carlos from Mexico who organized a musical band playing prehispanic music with his compatriots in Germany:

“I am a grandchild of indigenous grandparents, I grew up in a culture that although is not unique, but has a lot of things to show, among them are music, instruments, dance, poetry. When I interpret and people listen to me, I feel being a part of Mexico, of its culture that transcends. But I also think that when this nation (Germans) is interested in what I do, they accept diversity, value and appreciate what is being done beyond its frontiers.”

Grupo Cuicatl

 

So how do we find each other?

You can already find in the KITnDO directory addresses of some local associations related to your origin(s) and also join KITnDO Facebook Group. We also made a list of some ideas on how to find and to connect with compatriots abroad.

1) Web platforms that have physical meetups in several countries/cities

InterNations

Meetup

Justlanded

Expat.com

2) Virtual groups (including social media)

– Facebook groups of people sharing the same culture or language

– local forums (Toytown Germany, TheLocal communities including several European countries)

– local threads on Reddit (r/Germany, r/USA, r/Russia etc.)

Expat Forum

Expatinfodesk.com

3) Local culture centers/museums/libraries

4) Associations (cultural, educational, sport, etc.)

 

Are you keeping in touch with people sharing your origins? If yes, then what’s your favorite way to connect with other expats/compatriots?

Written by Maria Migalina