Landing in a new country is really like being a teenager again. Learning the language is just part of the whole relocation. Expats must re-learn all the basic rules of living together: the things your parents and your experience have taught you so far, seem not to work anymore. Everyday actions suddenly become “weird”, and you can see it in the way local people stare at you or respond to you!
Among the hundreds of new things I`ve learned, here are a few that I wish I had known before my arrival:
1. Look attentively around you before acting: When in Rome, do as the Romans do. No matter if what you used to do seems better. Locals have been living here much longer than you have, and, yes, they know it better!
2. Join social networks: Being on Facebook has been the best move for me. I met most of my current friends through it. I joined community pages and search for people near me. We organize all kinds of social events, which help me not to feel lonely or bored. I also refer to my community when I have a problem and need a suggestion. So, don`t feel shy, just do it!
3. Volunteer: Volunteering is a wonderful way to meet people, create your networking, fill your day, and, most of all, learn how things work! For people coming from my country, the idea of doing something for free is pretty unusual. In Italy, most of the services provided through volunteers are supposed to be provided either by the government or by a paid professional service. In California, schools, museums, libraries, social services, etc, all of them use volunteers to organize their schedules and provide services. Volunteering is also very well considered when looking for a job. During the few interviews I had so far, I`ve always been asked about my volunteering activities.
4. Children and friends: Do not underestimate the difficulty of making new friends at school! The American children`s schedule is full of activities. Most of them have virtually no time at all to spend with friends, to simply be together. Nor are they used to doing it. The American way of socializing is doing things together: playing sport games, hiking, doing some kind of arts and crafts, etc. But relations are usually strictly related to the activity itself. It is very unusual to meet the same people afterwards. Every “play date” or other social event should be scheduled and organized a long time in advance. In my country, our children just drop into their friend`s house, with almost no advance notice, just for the time of a snack or for the whole day! On the contrary, in America, it is pretty common to see kids of all ages spending their afternoons or weekends at home with their parents, just because they didn`t plan anything in advance.
5. Networking and Community: You`ll be hearing these words at least 100 times a day! What are they, exactly? In my country, our life is organized in families (which represent a huge part of our lives) and friends: we tend to live a more stable life. On the contrary, the Americans have a more erratic way of living. They move from one place to another very easily. Networking and communities provide that kind of support other cultures receive from families and friends. Local communities and networking make it easier for everybody to get involved in a new city or country. Everyone ready to support the community in some way is welcome, and every city, town or village has its own community.
6. Create your new life: Don`t be afraid of thinking of something new, something you really like or would have always liked to do. The American dream is full of opportunities. There are courses, activities and enterprises for almost everything and everyone. And if the one you are looking for is not there, well, you can make it up! But be careful: there are also a lot of strict rules to follow!
7. Don`t be afraid to ask for help: If you don`t know or don`t have, just ask! The Americans are always ready to provide help and support. In my experience, they are glad to get involved and you will never receive a negative answer!
Every single aspect of our lives has been affected by the relocation! I plan to write a few more posts on the same topic. I would love to hear about how your life has changed because of relocation. Please share some stories with me!