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Wednesday, October 7, 2009

survival 101 - things to do in order to be happy in a new destination

1. Do accept that whatever you've been used to so far should be left at home. Things change with every region, so moving countries naturally calls for even more drastic changes. By all means, bring your culture with you, but don't expect people to change, you'd be surprised at how many people don't get this and expect everything abroad to be the same.
2. Accept the changes no matter how hard, bizarre, strange and so on they are or may be. You've come here for a reason, think of how you would feel if someone else was to mindlessly criticize everything in your country.
3. Things work differently in your new country, doesn't mean they're better or worse necessarily, just different. Case in point, the girl behind the Subway counter, may not smile and banter invitingly, but she will patiently tell you about all they have, without rushing you and will equally patiently wait until you have somehow managed to make up your mind, despite the line forming behind you. And yes, those people are waiting there patiently.
4. Silence and not talking does not mean that you are not accepted, it just means that there is silence, literally.
5. Choose your social network wisely, some are there to enhance your experience, others are there because they want your hard earnings and your soul.
6. Don't jump down people's throats because they go out of their way to speak your language. Yes, you are here to (hopefully) some day speak their language but they are also happy at being able to practice a language they like and speaking your language, is more than just common courtesy, it really is saying, we're making the extra effort to make you feel welcome.
7. Don't pretend to survive on all the clichés, yes, it gets dark early during the winter, yes people love their sausages and beer and sauna. There's more to life than just mindlessly repeating and regurgitating common clichés, as if wanting to say, I can use them, I am now an accepted member of whatever community it is that you intend to be an accepted member of.
8. Don't fall into the trap of hanging only with people from your country. Yes, it's daunting and hard to make friends, and seemingly impossible but can be done.
9. If and when you do, don't resort to "them" being the locals and "us" meaning you and your expatriate friends. It is of course nice to be able to share but mind the pitfalls, don't let this be your only network, which results in host country bashing, fun, therapeutic and cathartic as that may be.
10. Don't take this list seriously, it was merely a joke created to avoid getting some much needed rest.

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