Tips for Finding Community Abroad
The thrill of heading somewhere new, even for a short while, is irresistible for those with a sense of wanderlust. For some, the desire to seek new borders, cultures, and horizons goes a step further when they choose to move abroad permanently!
Once the decision to move abroad is made, the planning can finally begin. It doesn’t take long for logistics to stack up. Those making an international move quickly find that the to-do list can become all-consuming faster than they ever imagined possible.
Between scheduling with international moving companies, packing belongings, updating passports, and letting friends and family know about your plans, life is always hectic. In the hustle of all of the preparations a major life change like this requires, some of the challenges that might lie ahead can get overshadowed.
It’s Easy to Overlook the Community Factor
Among the many hurdles that come with a big move abroad is the task of creating a community for yourself in a brand new country. This can be especially difficult for those who are moving away from large families or strong social circles to places where they don’t have familiar faces waiting to greet them.
The transition from resident to a foreigner can be thrilling, and equally jarring in this way. Moving away from a place where you have many loved ones to a country where your social life starts from scratch often comes with an unexpected feeling of initial isolation.
Much like during the moving process, the first few weeks, and even months, in a new country come with plenty of tasks that require attention. Once international moving companies have deposited the last box of belonging at your new home, you’ll likely be busy setting up new bank accounts, finding grocery stores, and learning public transportation routes.
As the basics fall into place and the dust settles, questions concerning a sense of community often rise to the surface. It’s normal to start feeling a bit lonely at this point in the process.
The Importance of Creating a Community Abroad
We all require community on some level and when you move abroad, that need is only intensified. Those who are making an international move on their own often experience a sense of urgency when it comes to developing a community. There’s a feeling of safety in knowing you’re not isolated in a place where everything else feels so new.
Creating a solid community in a new country can also boost your confidence in your decision to move. Every bond established is further proof of your progress!
For foreigners who move with children, establishing connections with other families with kids in the area encourages healthy socialization among little ones. It also provides a path to a potential friendship between the adults. For professionals who move abroad in the name of a career, creating a community is not only valuable in terms of networking, but in making a new country feel like home.
It’s important to keep in mind that while finding a community abroad is vital, it doesn’t happen all on its own. It takes mindful effort and strategy to find those you connect with in a place where the language, culture, customs, and surroundings may be different.
It is key to have some tips and tricks up your sleeve for meeting others and establishing connections in a new country. The following are just a few options to consider when you’re ready to find your place in a foreign country and make some great friends along the way.
Reach Out Before You Even Leave Home
Social media is an undeniably powerful communication and research tool. When it comes to finding a community abroad, there are options to create a social circle before you ever leave home.
Before you book an airline ticket or reserve your place with international moving companies, joining expat groups on platforms like Facebook can give you a step up when it comes to community building.
It likely won’t take long to find foreigners on social media who are already living in the city you’re moving to. Connecting with these individuals online before your trip is a great way to gain some insight into what daily life is going to be like.
Not only do these social media groups give you a way to go directly to the source with questions and concerns about moving abroad, but you just might make a friend as well. Knowing you have a coffee date in place before you land in your new country can deliver up some well-deserved peace of mind.
Attend Public Lectures and Events at Local Universities
No place brings an international audience together quite like a university. Fortunately, there are plenty of them to be found all across the globe.
There are a significant number of American universities abroad that regularly host public lectures and events well-attended by students and foreigners alike. Attending a talk or event about a topic that interests you is a good way to expand your educational horizons while also engaging with others who enjoy similar things!
Learn More About the Expat Community Through Your Embassy
Knowing where your local embassy is located in your new country is important for safety reasons. It’s also a great resource when it comes to finding community abroad.
Reaching out to the embassy is a good place to start when it comes to finding out which expat social clubs and groups exist in your new city and where they gather. The embassy itself may host regular events for expats throughout the year.
Sign Up for a Language Class
If you’re moving to a country where you’re not fluent in the primary language, signing up for a language class is vital. Make registration first on your to-do list as soon as international moving companies drop off your last belonging.
Not only does joining a language class make navigating your daily life in a new country easier, but it’s a great way to meet others in an identical situation! While you’re perfecting your verbs and pronunciation, you’ll also become part of a group of learners who share a similar goal. There’s an inevitable sense of comradery that follows.
Don’t Skip the Local Hotspots
No matter how excited you are for those international moving companies to pack you up so you can make your way abroad, once you arrive, it’s tempting to fall into old habits. As comfortable as it might be to step into that Starbucks down the street when you need a caffeine fix, making your way towards a more local hangout is going to benefit your community-building efforts substantially more.
Yes, finding those local hangouts in your new city can feel intimidating at first, but it’s a fast way to integrate yourself into new surroundings and social circles. Regulars at local cafes and restaurants will likely have questions for you which is the perfect way to open up a conversation. There’s a lot of satisfaction in becoming part of a local crowd.
Volunteer Your Time
Even if your visa doesn’t allow you to work for pay in a new country, there’s nothing that says you can’t volunteer your time when you’re looking to find community abroad. Before or after you’ve arrived, make an effort to research local volunteer opportunities that revolve around causes you care about.
Volunteering abroad puts you in proximity to like-minded activists and provides for a sense of belonging even when you’ve only recently arrived in town. On top of all that, you’ll feel great knowing you’re contributing some goodness to your new city!
See the Potential in School Connections
If you’re counting on international moving companies to transition your entire family abroad, finding a community might look a little different. It’s easy to get so focused on getting your children settled into a new school that you forget the social benefits an academic setting might hold for you.
Once you’ve figured out where your kids will be attending school, be sure to ask about how you can get involved as well. Whether you join a parent organization, help with field trips, or assist in the classroom, participating in school activities will give you a better understanding of your child’s new surroundings abroad. It will also put you in touch with other parents that could become part of your social circle over time.
If your children attend an international school, you’ll likely find a sense of support amongst other families that may have made similar life changes. If your children end up attending a local public school, getting involved is a chance to get a more authentic feel for how families in the area approach education. It’s also a great way to learn more about local culture!
Select the Best Among International Moving Companies
Moving abroad is a big decision. At International Van Lines, we believe you deserve the best when it comes to booking international moving companies that cater to customized needs.
Our team knows what it takes to get you where you’re going. Learn more about how our services compare to other international moving companies and request a free quote!