Getting familiar to a foreign country is the most exciting thing in the world. You get to see new places. You try new tastes. You witness and experience a whole new culture that's changing your points of view. For most immigrants, however, there's a serious problem: communication.
If you're moving to a new country all by yourself, the situation is scary. How do you start meeting new people? What about the language barrier? How do you preserve the communication with your friends and family back home?
Catherine Collins, a writer from BestDissertation, recently moved to France. She shares her experience: "Fortunately, I was able to keep my job. That support system was important, but it prevented me from taking risks. I was spending all my time alone, doing work. When I went to explore, I did it alone. I was living like that for few months, but I got seriously ill and there was no one I could call. Long story short – it was an experience that changed my life. I started getting out there, meeting people and communicating. Without real communication, we're practically ghosts."
How do you do it? How do you get into this new world and attract great people around you? Let's go through some ideas, shall we?
1. Work on the Language
That's the starting point. It doesn't matter what level you're currently at. There are always more things to learn when you're trying to master a foreign language. The key is in immersion. If you're at a restaurant trying to order a meal with a weird name, ask what it is. If you don't understand a word, ask them to translate it to English. There you go. You're communicating with the waiter. It's a start.
When you start using the language better, you're break the barrier between you and the native speakers. You'll be more self-confident and you'll start getting into conversations more easily.
The question is: how do you learn the language? Take an online course. Use a language learning app. Take a real course in the country you moved to. Most importantly: get immersed!
2. Make a Move
It's not the right time to be shy. When you want to make friends, it's important to drop your guard. This doesn't mean you'll be making moves on everyone you see. It means you'll come out of your shell and you'll start initiating conversations with people who seem interesting.
How do you start talking to someone? Rule one: don't talk about the weather. Think of a less boring conversation starter. If you see someone reading a book you love, talk about it. In public transport, ask the person next to you to tell you something about the sight you're about to visit. Talk about a viral YouTube video you just watched. Anything could work!
3. Keep an Open Mind
When you start meeting people, you'll realize they are much different than the ones you used to hang out with. A different country means different culture. People behave differently. Their sense of humor will be different. You might disagree with some of their social norms.
If you want to start making friends, it's important to accept these people the way they are. If you're trying to "reeducate" them by teaching them what's proper according to your culture, you'll only annoy them.
Are you there for work or study? Then it's easy to meet new people; they are everyone around you. If you don't have real contact with the outside world, however, it's more difficult to find people to become friends with. In such case, you need an activity that connects you with like-minded individuals.
Why don't you find an organization that fights for a cause you believe in? Volunteering makes you feel useful. However, it also offers unlimited opportunities for communication with people you like.
5. Be Casual
So how exactly do you cope with the lack of communication? The real answer is: you don't! You go beyond that point. You try to establish communication. The best way to do that is to start making contacts beyond formal environments like classrooms and workplaces.
When you want to make friends, it's best to aim to casual settings. Get dressed and have your morning coffee somewhere outside. Have lunch in a cozy restaurant. Just be relaxed and see where that attitude takes you.
6. Maintain Contact with People Back Home
You don't want to cut the communication with everyone you knew. You'll surely maintain the contact with your family, but what about all your friends? Do you have enough time for Skype sessions with all of them? If you don't, then social media should be enough.
Stay active. Keep track of what your friends are up to. Send them messages. Not just for their birthdays! Ask how things are going. Comment on their photos. Post your own updates. Call your closest friends whenever you can!
7. Don't Lose Yourself
When you focus on meeting new people, you start trying too hard. The new culture and traditions impose some expectations. You'll be doing everything you can to fit in. Don't let these efforts change who you are.
Stay proud of your own culture and heritage. Share it. Learn everything about this country, but keep reminding yourself of the good stuff you have back home. Keep doing the things you love. Reading, listening to music, jogging… whatever your interests are, keep them! You'll learn new things, but that doesn't mean you should forget who you are.
Are you ready? Just get out there! You'll always find people open for communication. When you're a fun and approachable person, everyone will want to hang out with you. Relax! Make few steps and the friendships will follow.