Living abroad, even if you move to a country where your native language is spoken, can be an alienating experience. Even the most well-adjusted person will go through bouts of homesickness and frustration.

When we first moved to Germany, I barely even tried to integrate because I thought we would be leaving within 48-months. But once that time passed, it was clear that we’d be there much longer. And ended up staying in Germany 13 years before returning to the US.

Here are some tips that will hopefully help you adapt to life as an expat:

Know What to Expect

Make sure you do your homework on the country to which you will be relocating. You need to understand all their customs before you land to avoid making a cultural blunder and offending the locals. Familiarize yourself with their food, lifestyle, art, and history. Moreover, if your second or third language is spoken where you are going, make sure that you can speak it passably. There are many courses and apps nowadays that can you help you with this.

Not knowing the local language could lead to disaster, but knowing what to expect will reduce the culture shock. If possible, you should try out recipes from the country that you want to move to for a better sense of what the food is like.

Know that Homesickness is Normal

You should give yourself enough time to adjust to the new environment and understand that feeling disoriented is normal. However, once you settle in, you need to find something to keep yourself busy. Doing so will distract you from the homesickness in a positive way instead of spending your time moping.

You can do some of the following to keep yourself busy and make a positive impact:

  • Yoga – participating in yoga is relaxing and it has many benefits for the body
  • Writing – writing an article, story, or journal will keep your thoughts busy.
  • Volunteering – when you volunteer, you will feel good about yourself and make new friends.

Do What the Locals Do

You should observe what the locals are doing and start doing that yourself. For instance, if you discover that there is no line at the post office, but people are jostling for position, you should do the same. Although you might feel uncomfortable the first time you do, you have to do it if you want stamps. If you fail to adjust to the new culture, you will not do as well as you’d like.

Anticipate Culture Shock

Once you are off the plane, you will feel excitement because you are in a foreign land. In the beginning, everything will seem new and exotic, but when those feelings wear off, you will start experiencing some negativity. You might start feeling sick of the country, but you will not be able to go home on a whim.

Some people deal with culture shock by trying to recreate their home country and associating with people from their home country.

Here are some tips that will help you to deal with culture shock:

  • Try not to complain because doing so only reinforces negative feelings.
  • You are not in your home country and you have to learn and understand the new customs if you want to be there.
  • Find things that you like about your new home if you want to fall in love with it.


Changing Transport

You may not need to have a car to get around in your new country of residence. Walking is the most practical way of getting from one place to another, but it might not always be possible to walk. In such cases, you should consider using public transport, as it is the cheapest way to get where you are going.

Is there a subway system or public buses in the country that you are moving to? You need to find the cheapest routes and, of course, the locals are your best source for his.

Unless you moved across countries with your belongings, you will need to ship them too. According to the owner of, you should choose a shipping company before leaving your home country, so that this item is off your checklist.