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Finding Fellow Expats When Moving to a New Country

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Moving overseas is challenging in so many ways. One of the biggest hurdles to overcome when moving to a new country is adjusting to life so far away from everything - and everyone - you know. However, things would be much simpler if only you could find a way to fit in. Perhaps the easiest way to do this is finding other people from your home country. Your fellow expats in your new country can help ease your transition by offering valuable advice, a little perspective, and even friendship.

Expats When Moving to a New Country

If you are moving to a foreign country with a different culture and different customs, follow these useful tips to find expats abroad and make your move a better experience.

How to find expats in a new country

  • Visit expat blogs and websites: There are endless expat blogs and forums for transplants that are moving to just about any country in the world. Read about expat bloggers' experiences on their blogs or even contact them privately if you have any specific questions. You can also strike up conversations with commenters on the posts.

    Expat forums are even more interactive - reply to existing threads to join in conversations or start a new topic if you have an inquiry or feeling to share. You can find expat blogs and forums relevant to your move by doing a quick internet search or by visiting portal sites like blogexpat.com, expatwoman.com, or expatsblog.com.
  • Join social media groups: Social media is an amazing tool for connecting with others all over the world. For example, there are endless Facebook groups for expats looking to connect with one another and attend meetings or events.

    Explore social media for expat resources, pages, groups, and clubs to find more information about your new country, connect with others, and possibly attend expat gatherings to make new friends and socialize.
  • Visit expat hangouts: Many cities overseas - especially ones with large expat communities - have restaurants, bars, or cafes that are frequently patronized by expats from certain regions. For example, if you are moving to Paris from the United States, there are many American-friendly bars that are visited by expats when they long for a taste of home.

    You may also find other expats enjoying telecasts of events back home like the Super Bowl or the Oscars. While you may prefer to soak up the authentic local culture, visiting these hangouts can help you meet other expats and ease your transition into life overseas.
  • Attend expat events: If you belong to expat groups on social media, it's a great way to find out about social and business networking events, parties, and festivals for other international transplants. These are especially common in expat-rich areas and create opportunities to meet others from overseas.

    You can attend various events like music concerts and festivals, movie screenings, and live sports screenings in your new city. Thus, you'll be able to not just meet a lot of expats from your home country, but you will also be able to connect with them while enjoying fun activities.
  • Join a club: One of the best ways to find expats in a new country is to join a club and meet people with common interests or background. It could be a sports club where you will get to make new friends or an alumni club where you can connect with people from your alma mater to relive memories from your college days. Almost all big cities have such clubs where expats can meet up and socialize to feel at home and deal with the anxiety of cultural differences after a move.
  • Sign up for a language course: When you move to a foreign place, you'll need to overcome the language barrier. Signing up for a language course will not just help you learn the foreign language, but it will also help you find expats in a foreign country who are equally unfamiliar with the local vernacular and culture. It's much more efficient to learn a new language through a course as compared to online tools and apps and having friends to learn alongside you makes the experience even better.
  • Building a network in your field of work: Even if you don't have enough time or interest in socializing by going out, you can always find expats at work. Depending on your field of work, you can either bond with other expats at your workplace or discover them through business meetings, conferences, or projects.

Benefits of finding expats in a new country

Finding expats can be extremely helpful to you when moving abroad all alone. It will not just help you feel at home, but it will also ease your struggle with adapting to a foreign land. Below are some of the other benefits of meeting and connecting with other expats when moving to a foreign country.

  • You can learn about life in your new country: Who better to shed light on what to expect when moving to a new country than those who have made the exact same move? People from your home country that are now living in your destination country can share their experiences and give you some insight into living day-to-day overseas.

    Are the locals friendly? Are there expat hangouts in your area? How important is it to learn the language? For example, if you are moving to the Caribbean, you can do endless research on life in the island nations - but a first-hand account from another transplant is much more valuable.
  • You could have someone you know when you arrive: Worried about moving to a foreign land where you don't know anyone? Visiting expat blogs and forums will allow you to connect with people with whom you share a common background and language. If you establish relationships with expats in your specific region or city, you can make plans to meet when you arrive. Remember, to be safe, always make plans to meet in public places when first encountering someone you met on the internet.
  • It will help you gain support and inside perspectives: If you're feeling nervous or anxious about your move, sharing concerns with peers online that have been through it already can be cathartic. Fellow expats can share advice for dealing with your moving fears and dealing with culture shock based on their actual experiences.

Nicole La Capria  Posted by Nicole La Capria on March 3, 2013

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