Moving to a new country and learning to adapt to life in a new culture can be a massive step out of your comfort zone and one that comes with both highs and lows. The culture in England is not that different from the Netherlands but if you move further away, it can be quite challenging to adapt to differences in culture, whether it’s food, language, customs or the weather!
An example: having mostly heard American-English while at school, I’ve had to get used to using certain words (like saying trousers instead of pants and jumper instead of sweater).
It’s really important to be prepared when you’re moving abroad. These tips will help you adapt to life in a new country!
1. Engage with locals
Engaging with locals is one of the best ways to help you feel like part of a community and make friends. It also requires a lot of effort. As an au pair, I was automatically engaging in activities to do with the kids. But taking an exercise or language class or volunteering with a local organisation are also great ways to get involved with your local community and meet new people.
2. Say ‘Yes!’ to every opportunity
It can be so easy to just stay in your room and not leave the house after moving to a new country because you’re feeling overwhelmed. Don’t do that. It will just make you more homesick. Instead, open yourself up to new experiences and say “Yes!” to every opportunity that presents itself to you. Try everything and immerse yourself in the new culture by embracing the differences. You can do this by going to a sporting match, trying local food or participating in cultural holidays.
3. Share what you know
You may think your home country is ordinary and boring, but it’s very likely that people in your new country will find it very interesting to hear about. Have some friends over for dinner and cook a dish from your home country, teach people a few short phrases in your language or share photos of where you used to live.
4. Get out and explore
I was lucky enough to be an au pair when I first moved to England and could use this as a basis for exploring the country. I took every opportunity I had to visit nearby cities, go on hikes and wander around the area. But even if you have a full-time job, you can still go out and explore new places on the weekends!
5. Learn about the country’s history
Learning about a country’s history is important. Many aspects of modern-day life are influenced by what has happened in the past. This knowledge will equip you with a deeper understanding of certain traditions and aspects of your community’s culture.
These tips should help you soon feel at home in your new country! Moving abroad, whether it’s as an au pair or for a different reason, is a great experience and it will leave you with a new cultural understanding.