You’re living in a new country, having fun exploring the unique culture, and making friends as you go. Now, how do you fit, so you aren’t automatically labeled as a tourist?
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What can you do to integrate yourself more into the culture so that it feels more like home? When you assimilate into a new culture, you’re going to have a more meaningful experience. Here are a few tips to help you fit in like a local. After trying these out, you might even be mistaken for someone native to your host country.
1. Talk the Talk
Learn the language. Speak the lingo. Ask street kids the slang they use. Do whatever you can so that you can sound like someone local. If the language is different from your native land, practice as much as possible. People might like practicing their English with you, but make sure they reciprocate, and so you can practice your new language skills too. If the language is the same as your home country, find out and use that other lingo they might use. Just beware that you learn the naughty words. You don’t want to offend someone expectantly.
2. Walk the Walk
Look around you as you are wandering around your new home. How are people acting? Are they rushing around New York City-style? Are they meandering around with little regard to time? Take a look at their body language. Are they aggressive and expressive or relaxed and passive? Do they have a large personal bubble or a nonexistent personal bubble?
These are all things that are specific to the culture that you are living abroad in. You won’t be able to practice these things before you leave and really won’t understand until you get there. Try emulating what you see around you, as you feel comfortable.
3. Eat the Food
Food is a large part of any culture, and if you can master the eating practices of your host country, you’ll be on your way to having a very successful and meaningful experience abroad. Some countries center their days on food, such as the Spanish, who eat six meals a day. Other cultures eat to live and don’t place importance on eating. Some countries eat out for every lunch because it is less expensive to do so, and others put significant importance on family/group meals. Try doing as the locals do so that you can better understand the new culture you are living in.
4. Wear and Try the Local Clothes
The easiest way you can stand out in a new country is to dress differently. While it is hard to know what exactly to bring when you are getting ready to live abroad, you can do some initial research online to see what the locals wear. But the best option is to buy very little before and build your wardrobe once you get to the country.
One special note to be aware of, some countries place importance on covering your body up, especially for women. If you are going to be living abroad in one of these countries, make especially sure you have appropriate attire before you leave.
5. Enjoy the Pastimes
If you truly want to fit in, ask locals what they do for fun and then ask if you can join in. It may be shrimping in Taiwan, sitting and chatting in Cambodia, walking the markets in Morocco, or eating in Spain. Find a group of locals who look your age and join in. Some of your favorite memories from living abroad will come from situations like this.
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