Sharing is caring!

Is it really possible to settle quickly in a new country? I know you’re probably thinking but I left my job behind, my family, my friends, the comfort of my home, I left everything behind to move.

And I completely understand that, I was in the exact same position and guess what? I made it through (eventually)! And this list will help you do it even more quickly.

The most crucial aspect in your move to a new country is being able to settle in and be comfortable. Why would I know anything about this?

Because I moved to a new country in a different continent with different weather and scariest of all, a different language. My first move was to Bogotá, Colombia.

Sometimes not crying for one whole day was an achievement (and I’m not really the type to cry that often). I had felt sooo alone and sad most of the time while my husband went to work.

I can say in hindsight, I took way too long to figure things out. Struggle after struggle, I finally discovered the best ways to make myself feel like I could belong in another place.

And, not only be okay with it, but enjoy myself as well. Now I know how to do things better for my next relocation and I’ll be giving you those 5 tips. Plus a bonus tip if you keep reading.

Side note: I don’t have pets or kids (yet?) so it does not include schools but I’d think that’s an important factor to consider.

1. Make new connections

The hardest thing was leaving my family and friends behind. I’ve never felt more lonely than I did then, I had absolutely no one except my partner. Thankfully for technology I could still video call my family back home.

Plus the few friends that would bother to still reply. But it was still different. It wasn’t the same as saying to my bestie, “hey, let’s go get a coffee/bubble tea”. And that would’ve been on a good day, just wanting to talk.

Can you imagine how much worse it was on the hard days? I don’t even want to think about the days of not having someone to physically talk to and comfort me.

I felt so alone, extremely sad, and I kept wondering if I had done the right thing. No one had gone through what I was and I had no one to talk to.

Not even my partner understood what I was going through. He would be at the office everyday, interacting with people in English and not having to scrape by in a life with no purpose. You can read more way on how to conquer feeling homesick here.

After experiences of people laughing at me, it just made me more shy. I was more afraid to go out and try, so I locked myself in my apartment.

The four apartment walls kept me safe from the mean people who didn’t understand, and didn’t know I existed. I felt so alone that I used to keep my apartment curtains open so just in case anything were to happen to me, someone would see and hopefully call for help.

In case that didn’t work, I considered getting those buttons to press in case of emergency. So I could press a button and someone would rescue me.

I wish someone told me to start making connections even before I had gotten there. It is so simple to look for expat groups on Facebook to whichever country you’ll be travelling to.

I looked up “Expats in Colombia” and joined so many groups. I eventually left any that weren’t quite relevant but there are 3 different groups that I can use now. Also there are women or men expat groups as well.

Any query I have, I can write a post in one group (or all three of the groups which some people hate) and hope for some good responses on information that isn’t very easy to Google.

“I wish someone told me to start making connections even before I had gotten there”

Something as random as “what can I use to make whipped cream?”. Classically, I would’ve used heavy cream to make it. However, when I whipped the “crema de leche” which I thought was the equivalent, it just separated.

I ended up having to throw it out. Apparently, I needed Chantilly cream. This came in two forms, ready made like those in the cans or a powder form that is mixed with milk.

You can also look for Facebook groups about activities you like, for example hiking groups that I found. All of which are completely free to interact with because it’s just on Facebook.

I also just started a group for expats to help each other because that support would’ve made life easier for me and it will for you. There are so many different types of people to find in Colombia and throughout the world.

Aside from this, there are physical groups, for example, language exchanges. Here you can play games in the language you are learning and some even have activities after like salsa class.

There are even sites like Meetup and Internations where you can join and share you interests. Then they will send you invitations to events.

Internations’ basic membership is free so you can attend an event and decide if you want to pay for membership. I know people who went to an event, made friends, exchanged contacts and hang out together since then.

2. Find a job

Even though a big part was leaving everyone behind, but also my main activity, my job. I had to leave behind my (1) amazing friends who made work worthwhile, (2) the thing that kept me and my brain occupied, and (3) the ability to make an income.

I previously discussed the first point but it was hard to leaving the main activity that my life revolved around. From going to be occupied for most of the week, to being completely free of any obligation.

People think it sounds like a dream, but what do you do when you’re given all this time? How do you occupy yourself?! Worse yet, when your brain can quickly turn against you.

All I had to do was housework and study Spanish (which I quickly got fed up of). Again, I took way too long to help myself in this situation simply because of the fear.

Eventually, I made a list of all the thing I wanted to do. This included online courses, exercising, meditation, read books online, work on Etsy and Upwork.

So I started up profiles on both of the latter. Other options include finding jobs on LinkedIn, checking company websites, find recruitment agencies and recruitment sites.

You can read more about getting an expat job here.

3. Get exercise

It took me quite some time to build up the courage to do something about it. In hindsight, it took too long to realise that I could change the situation I was in.

No, I don’t mean returning back home (even though I wanted to at times), but to figure out ways to get myself more active other than going to the supermarket or mall by myself.

It took a year before I found out that the malls had free Zumba and yoga classes. Having 4 malls close by, I had quite some options. Although the thought of Zumba didn’t quite appeal to me. Because I saw it more as a dance and I was as uncoordinated as a…well, me!

But I decided to try it, bright and early 9am, I went to the mall’s outside area to do Zumba. I wasn’t sure where I was going but I followed the sound of the blasting music. I’m not the party type but I do love good vibes and good music.

When I got there, I went to the back of the rows of mostly women and watched the instructor. I stood there for quite some time just watching because I didn’t even know how to start. This was completely new to me.

Never had I done anything with dancing or aerobics or coordination in general! I was 100% lost! 

After already waking up early and walking for 20 minutes, I decided to give it a try. But there was one thing I hadn’t thought about. That was exercising in a high altitude city (8,000ft above sea level), where oxygen was already pretty scarce.

After a few minutes of whatever uncoordinated moves I was doing, I was gasping for breath! GASPING! I took a break and started back which continued for the next hour.

It was difficult to say the least but I enjoyed it. They even played a soca song (from the Caribbean) which reminded me of home. This would definitely be an activity I would continue and, got better at….who would’ve thought?

4. Learn the language

I had the worst experiences in almost everything I did mainly because of the language barrier. My native language is English but I studied Spanish back home so it was not brand new.

The big difference was that school was academic oriented. This meant that we did not have nearly enough oral practise to actually learn a language.

I did not know anyone so I could not just ask someone for help if I had any queries.

Worse yet, when I tried to talk to stranger, often, they would laugh at me for not being able to communicate properly in Spanish. When I went to the supermarket, it was like walking into a world where nothing made sense.

It was to me, because nothing made sense. I was beyond confused, I didn’t know what things meant or what they were because brands were different. So I couldn’t even use prior knowledge to think ok, “I cant believe it’s not butter” when here it was called “Rama”.

I felt guilty to spend the money I wasn’t making on Spanish classes. But eventually I realised how much I needed them. Finally, I found classes that were interactive (which makes a big difference in learning a language) and enrolled.

This was a golden opportunity! All the other foreigners were here as well! So I was able to make new friends at the same time.

5. Get into activities

This 2 in 1 helps you find activities that you are interested so you can do the things you love. And the bonus of meeting new people.

The easiest way to do this is to follow pages or join groups on social media so that you can see any upcoming activity that you like. One of the malls in my area had several weekday activities that you could be a part of.

The first class I joined was a painting class. I timidly went to the mall on the day of the class and saw tables and chair set up. It was pretty empty as Colombians are notorious for their punctuality. Nevertheless I registered and took a seat.

Slowly people started coming in and sitting at other tables. People looked at me differently as I stood out as not being a local. It was not unusual for people to keep their distance but by this time, it was not news to me anymore.

Gotta just brush things off sometimes, that’s how people are and nothing I could’ve done would’ve changed that.

Eventually the tables filled up and we got a ceramic to paint. Everyone at our table introduced ourselves to one another. In my introduction I let them know that I don’t speak Spanish well so they need to speak slowly.

As we started painting, we made jokes about our paintings as well as trying to figure out what we were supposed to do. It was nice to feel like I wasn’t the only one confused for once. And a couple times, I was actually able to help them.

BONUS TIP!

Don’t know how to start over your career? It may actually be helpful to speak to a Career Coach to help guide you out of the tunnel you feel like you’re trapped in.

Right before I decided to launch my blog, I spoke to Bertha Nibatete. She is also a trailing spouse and has gone through a lot of the struggles that I did. She was able to connect with me in a way that was very refreshing.

So many times in our conversation, I would say “exactly!” or “me too!”. I appreciated having someone who knew exactly what I was going through and how to get out of it. I wish I had met her sooner! Use the discount code BNC2020 to connect with her and let her help you figure out where your passions lie and how to make them reality. 

In conclusion, these 5 tips: making new connections, finding a job, getting some exercise, learning the language, and getting into activities will all help you to settle into your new country

And if you need some career help, the bonus tip is for you. After having a very difficult first move, I don’t think anyone should have to go through the experiences that I did.

And I do hope this helps you make your new country feel like home and you are able to find yourself. I will definitely be coming back to this article before my next move.

You can also check how to choose the perfect house abroad here. Thanks for reading, which tip do you think is most important?

Don’t forget to pin:

Sign up for updates below:

Sharing is caring!

41 thoughts on “How To Peacefully Settle In A New Country

  1. Definitely a great tip to learn the language. I’ve been in Spain almost a year and haven’t had the chance to take a class yet so it’s still difficult for me!

  2. very useful post!! I’m hoping to relocate abroad when travel restriction ease and it’s safe to do so, so I’ll definitely be using these tips 🙂

  3. These are great tips! I feel like making new connections & learning the language go hand-in-hand, and are both super important for feeling at home in a new country. Thanks for sharing this awesome tips! 🙂

  4. I definitely do not want to live in the US forever. I want to try living in different countries . These are great tips for anyone planning to move abroad .

  5. I think you’ve chosen the most important tasks to do when settling in a new country. The language and making connections would be by far the most difficult for me so glad you’ve highlighted these.

  6. This reminds me of the first time I moved abroad to Bahrain. It’s a great guide for anyone looking to move to a new country. Making connections is everything. Once you have a close friend or two, you start to feel more at home. Thanks for sharing!

  7. I have never moved to a new country but this seems like a great list for someone who is. I definitely agree that making some connections, whether social or at work, is a great first step!

  8. As someone who has also experienced living in a foreign country, I feel this list on a deep level… When my family and I moved from the US to Kenya, it was a huge adjustment. A lot of us struggled to get through the day without crying, so that especially was relateable. It’s such a complex jumble of emotions to explain, but you did an excellent job. Keep up the good work! Xx

  9. This is such a great guide with helpful tips. I am definitely looking to live abroad when I start to make more money with my blog. I believe it is so important to learn the language if you’re looking to live in a specific country. 🙂

  10. I think connections and language would be the hardest part, but I love your idea of starting to make those connections before you get there! (and language, of course!)

  11. So many recognizable things in this post! I settled in two new countries, one country last year and a new one just a few months ago. And I just connected to another foreigner while doing yoga on an outdoor yoga deck in nature. Putting it into practice! I am really a loner so need the extra push sometimes. Thank you for those mindful reminders. Love, Susanne

  12. I love both your tips and your honesty about the struggles of living abroad. It has a lot of glamour attached to it but it really is difficult, especially with a language barrier! Learning a new language and figuring out all the normal stuff like where to exercise really does take time and confidence.

  13. Such a great post for all of the people out there who relocate to a new country in order to stay with their partner. I especially like your suggestion of making connections before your arrival.

  14. Such valuble tips! We have moved internationally and we can atttest to the importance of having your ducks in a row. Having a job before moving is the ideal situation. Knowing the language and having at least some personal connections make the daunting tasks of relocating much easier.

    1. Thanks for your input, Sophia! A job before is ideal, but for me it was different because my husband already had his job here and we had to move in a month! So it was crazy! 100% agree with you!

  15. Great suggestions, especially about finding groups of similar people. I moved to Canada from the US and didn’t even have to deal with the language barrier so you had it that much harder. Sounds like you are doing great now so kudos!

    1. Hi Melinda! Thanks so much! The language barrier of course adds to it, any move in general is still a lot to handle. Hope you’re having a great time in the Canada!

  16. I always admire people who move to another country. It’s a very brave thing to do. One of my best friends recently moved to korea. I will share this with her ! Great list of helpful tips.

    1. Thanks, Lori! I actually didn’t realise how brave you had to be to make the move…a whole lot of brave! Oh that’s great for her! Would love to help her make the journey easier!

  17. I moved to Europe to work in 2003 and can verify that these tips are really good. I think it is important to not only learn the language but also the culture too. And keep a sense of humor because you WILL mess up as a foreigner!

    1. Thanks for your vote of confidence, Andi! Culture is definitely a huge deal as well. Messing up is such a natural part of the process that we tend to feel bad about, a sense of humour would undeniably be a great help!

    1. Hi Melissa, thanks! That’s exactly what my blog is about, you can check back or subscribe for new content and see what it’s really like. So much to experience and learn!

  18. What a great first post! I really enjoyed hearing about your experiences and its true that making an effort to learn the language is super helpful as people really appreciate you trying 🙂

    1. Thank you, Kelly! I definitely agree. Unfortunately, my attempts got me laughed at quite often, but you have to make mistakes to learn and get better 🙂

  19. Thank you for sharing! My husband and I want to move to Paris within the next 10 years and I have already started trying to learn the language and research real estate so I can learn what I can before we go. This helps give a more realistic idea of what to expect when moving to a new country.

    1. Happy to share, Dorian! A lot of people don’t realise all the little things that are part of moving aside from the packing and finding a place to live etc. That’s a great start! I plan on posting more about the things you need to help you move so you can keep an eye out for all the tips!

  20. Wonderful tips, very helpful. I too moved to a foreign country and felt very alone until I met some friends. Part of being able to do that was going out and trying new activities. It’s not easy to get going but once you do, you feel like even the smallest thing is a major achievement. It gets better and you’ll be so glad you made such a move, because even if you don’t stay there forever it’s an opportunity to find out that you are stronger than you sometimes think 🙂

    1. Thanks, Emma! So many people go through the loneliness and for me, I didn’t even realise that this was normal and that I could do something about it. Yesss, every little thing became an accomplishment! Living in a different country is an amazing opportunity. Let’s keep in touch!

  21. I really enjoyed your post. I am always dreaming of packing up and moving to Europe. While I think I would acclimate well and easily, reading your hardships really gives me room for pause. Did you ever consider working as an English tutor?

    1. Thanks so much, that means the world to me! That’s an amazing dream and definitely worth aiming for! Please don’t be discouraged, my aim is to share my struggles (so you don’t have to have such a difficult time) but also giving you the solutions to be fearless. Most people who travel tend to teach English as it’s the easiest way to earn. However, make sure to check the qualifications needed in the desired country. When I went to Spanish classes, they actually offered me an English teaching job which I took! Other options would include be remote jobs. I’ll be posting more soon!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. more information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.

Close