10 Ways to Feel at Home as an Expat
It's not easy moving to another country, especially when you start to feel homesick. Everything can be a reminder of how far away you are from familiarity, from the signs in another language to unidentifiable foods, but here are some tips to help you settle into your new home, in no particular order.
Even though you started traveling to get away from the monotony of your everyday life, it can be nice to have a routine abroad. It can be as simple as going to a cafe to read the newspaper everyday, which makes it feel like "your" place.
I made the decision to move into an apartment after a few months of crashing at my boyfriend's house and I'm glad I did. I left a big room full of stuff back home, but this small room I rented gave me the chance to unpack pictures and mementos to remind me of home. If your temporary "home" is a hostel dorm, you can still hang up pictures of friends and family.
Making friends isn't easy, but finding people with common interests is the best way to settle in. I went to my first Sydney Travel Massive event on my third night in Sydney. It felt so good to hear familiar American accents, even though I should have been embracing the Aussies. Other good meetups are found on Couchsurfing, Twitter, TravBuddy.com and Meetup.com. If the meeting people on the Internet sounds sketchy to you, take a class or get a job, using your interests to be introduced to like-minded individuals.
I dreaded going to the supermarket when I first arrived here because nothing was where I thought it would be and none of my usual brands were there. I tried to make some of my favorite recipes from home to make me feel better. None of them turned out how I expected, but that's one of the best things about cooking. Of course, you can also be more adventurous and eat the local food.
Once you've done all the tourist spots of your new locale, wander around your neighborhood. You may find a hole-in-the-wall restaurant that will become your favorite spot or a used bookstore to waste the day away in. And don't worry about getting lost, because that's the best way to learn your surroundings.
I prefer Friends when I'm feeling homesick, even if it is cheesy.
Watching your favorite movies or television shows can cheer you up when you're eager for a taste of home, especially if you're usually surrounded by the sounds of foreign languages. Catch up on Netflix or download Hotspot Shield for Hulu. I prefer Friends when I'm feeling homesick, even if it is cheesy.
7. Local Alternatives:
If you're a Starbucks addict back home, find your chosen city's local alternative. I'm a big drinker of Southern sweet tea, which doesn't exist here in Australia, but I've recently become addicted to delicious Thai teas.
8. Video Chat:
Skype can be your best friend, if not only because it's absolutely free. It's not the same as actually being there, but it keeps you in the loop. When my best friend got engaged, she told me to immediately get on Skype so she could show me her ring. It's also good for call forwarding and voicemail without all those nasty roaming charges.
9. Live Music:
What better way to feel the pulse of a city than by catching live music? You don't have to spend tons of money, since buskers are easy to find in every tourist hub and some are pretty good. If you want a more authentic experience you can check out an open mic night at a nearby bar or cafe.
Feeling at home in a new place isn't exactly something you can rush. There's no time frame, so it could take days or it could take years. But you're never going to settle in if you don't make an effort. You'll be glad you did.