Donnerstag, 24. Februar 2011

With enthusiasm, about the expat life

This is an article I wrote for, but I think it is very useful for my readers as well.

Our globalized world and the chances of the free travel are offering us several opportunities to relocate for work, fun, family, study. In this way, we have the opportunity to discover new cultures, to learn new languages and to get in contact with interesting people. 
As an expat, you have the chance not only to interact with the local people - which might be one of the aims of changing your familiar environment for getting immersed into a new world - but also to know other people, from all over the world, from continents and countries not always affordable to visit. For me, this represented an amazing occasion to improve my knowledge about places and cultures, to find new authors, to learn about new languages - including the various versions of English - new recipes...Overall, to familiarize with different cultural codes. 
But what do you need to find those happy expat people, unless you are not lucky enough to work and live in a multicultural and international environment?
Foremost, try to have a look if in your area you can find a Meetup group. This is a worldwide network, very efficiently used in America, with subsidiaries all over the world. You can find there very hobby oriented groups - as for tango dancers, yoga lovers or runners - but also general "International" gatherings reuniting people all over the world in quest for a company for spending the week-end or eating together. And, if nothing good around, be able to spend some money and make your own group and advertise it via the usual expat networks and websites dedicated to people like you. This is another tip to take into consideration when relocating: find - and Internet is working on your side - the English-speaking networks, blogs, online publications. Very easy task, you just need to type "foreigners in..." or "expats in..." or "English-speaking groups in..."(and fill with the place you are living). 

Another valuable tool is represented by the InterNations network. Excepting that getting there you need to be invited, you can have, at least once the month, part of a hectic gathering of foreigners living in the same town with you. In addition, you have various discussion boards allowing you to find other groups and people looking for getting together, including looking for new jobs.

For professionally oriented people, the professionally networks, as LinkedIn or Xing are hosting various groups of expats keen to share their experience, knowledge and, more important, events. It is free of charge and could help you in getting in touch with people talking the same language with you.

If you miss your mother tongue and local culture, your local embassies, consular offices or the specific national group might help you to have a smooth transition to the new world. 

What about starting a language class? For sure, you'll find several people like you, fighting with the new words and vocabulary cards. Some of them will be happy to join other people in a similar situation. 

If you have kids and they are enrolled to English-speaking schools or kindergarten, you are lucky as you can not only find friends and nice acquaintances, but your children too will have somebody to play while you share your expat experiences with the other expats. 
Do you love to read? Well, in this case, in many big cities, there are English bookstores and, often, those places can host various gatherings of English-speaking people, including book swaps and discussion clubs. 

For going out, find mainly the usual international places, where the high chances of meeting other "foreigners" like you. And, stay tuned to check on the Internet where the big Halloween party or Thanksgiving gatherings will be hosted. Maybe some pleasant surprises are waiting for you.

And, after a couple of months of intensive searching, you will love to be an expat, wherever you are! Or you'll start, as I do, giving advices to other people about how to orient into the jungle of multiculturalism.

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