Published December, 2017 by Ingrid Amanda Zanini
I mean, of course there are people that can very well just move to a new place and feel right at home from the very first week, but as a Brazilian who has lived in The Netherlands, Switzerland and now in Sweden, I can say that this is not the case for everyone. It was not for me, at least.
So I want to share with you some strategies that worked for me and for some friends that were cool enough to help me out in writing this post.
Do some research
The first place I go to is Google! Start by the basics, read the Wikipedia article about your new city and discover what it is famous for. Have a look at its main sights and mark them as “A Place I want to Visit” on Google Maps. Doing this will make you feel a bit more connected to the place and also make the adaptation process easier. As an additional bonus, you will then have a list of places to visit in your first few weekends when you don’t yet know anyone in the city.
Don't be afraid to be on your own…
A problem that I had before was being too shy to go places on my own. It is normal not to know so many people in your first weeks, but do not let that stop you from discovering your new city. A few ideas:
- Go to the landmarks you have googled.
- Have a coffee in a local café (avoid Starbucks, get to know what is really local!).
- Go shopping (of course you shouldn’t overspend, but going shopping is something that is perfectly fine to do alone and you can also get a taste of the local culture).
- Go for a Free Walking Tour (you can find them in most big cities, it’s an inexpensive way to get to know the city and new people).
… but do meet up with people!
Making friends in your new country is very important for your adaptation process. Just think about it: if in your home country you have friends and hobbies, why shouldn’t you have the same in your new home? A few ideas of how to meet people:
- Try networking websites. I am a fan of meetup.com, which is a website for expats that want to find people with common interests and hobbies. Internations.com has the same principle. Bumble, which was originally a dating app, also offers the option of meeting people just for friendship (look for the BFF version).
- Meet with friends of friends or alumni from the same University you went to. Ask your friends if they have friends in your new city and tell them to introduce you through Facebook. You can also easily find other alumni through LinkedIn and just get in touch with them – most people will be happy to hear from you. Just focus on finding people that have something in common with you because that makes it easier to develop a connection. You can also try to find a community from the country where you come from, but make sure to still try to get to know the local culture – otherwise, it does not make much sense moving away from home!
- Continue pursuing your hobbies. If you love swimming, try your local swimming pool; if you are a literature fanactic, have a look at local book clubs. If you are a good singer, try joining a choir. And the list goes on.
- But do try out new things as well! Sweden is known for its cinnamon buns, so one of the things I wanted to try when I arrived here was baking them. They didn’t turn out so bad 😊
And, finally, be open
I would lie if I said that I did not miss the Brazilian warmth and optimism, but I also appreciated the Dutch lack of hierarchy, the Swiss effectiveness and the Swedish culture of inclusion. Try to embrace the local culture and keep an open mind. You might start seeing things from another perspective and get to know yourself even better. It is all a very fun discovery journey!
I hope these tips will be helpful when starting your new adventure in a new place. Good luck and find me on LinkedIn if you are in Stockholm!