7 Ways to Make Living Abroad Feel Like Home
By Clare Hatcher, RE/MAX Social Media Intern
Last fall I had the amazing opportunity to study abroad in the Czech Republic. At first living in a new city was intimidating, but I quickly learned how to make myself at home. Whether you're about to spend time in another country or relocating for a job, here are some tips to help you become comfortable in your new city.
1. Walk everywhere. Not only will you start to get a feel for where things are, you will also be able to appreciate the simple little beauties you miss while on public transit or in a car. It gives you the freedom to stop in the quiet coffee shop two blocks from your house or to savor the sunset over the river on your walk home. Furthermore, walking immerses you in the city's culture and may even help you meet new people. Which brings me to my next point...
2. Talk to locals. If you're shy like me, small talk might be you're worst nightmare. It's okay to take baby steps. You can start with a smile at the sweet waitress who brings you lunch and asking how her day is going. The more personal connections you make, the more comfortable you'll be in your new environment. Plus it gives you an opportunity to practice your language skills.
3. Take public transportation. Okay, I realize this steps on my first point a bit, but bear with me. Mastering the city's transit system feels like a feat only a true local is capable and worthy of. Riding the tram (or Tube, METRO, etc.) is a way of proving to yourself that you can do it. You really can live here.
4. Find events to get excited about. And then go! With friends, with strangers, on your own, anything. Two strangers I met at a heavy metal concert ended up becoming my best friends. Don't be afraid to do something different (as long as you never jeopardize your safety).
5. Understand that there will be ups and downs. Everyone ends up getting homesick at some point, whether it's during traditional American holidays or when you're just craving a Reese's Cup (very hard to find in Europe!). Everyone will have a different way of curing homesickness. For me, regular FaceTime dates with my mom in the local Starbucks did the trick.
6. Make your house a home. Bring your creature comforts from your previous home: pictures of loved ones, fuzzy blankets, even your favorite pair of slippers. Whatever it may be, make sure you have it for when you need a reminder of home.
7. Don't forget to appreciate the people who help. Without a doubt there will come a time when someone goes above and beyond to help you when you need it most. Whether it's your academic advisor back at home, a welcoming landlord or a new friend that helps you navigate the city, don't take them for granted. Wine and chocolates are universally appreciated thank you gifts. And when the time comes, be sure to do the same for the newcomer on your block.
Have you ever had to adjust to living in a new city abroad? Tell me about your experiences in the comments below.