What it takes to settle in a new country Good advice for expats preparing to move overseas

An Australian living in Switzerland shares her thoughts on what it takes to successfully settle in.

Look at it as an adventure – a unique experience. Even though you may not have moved necessarily for your own job, it's an opportunity for you to enrich your life with culture, new friends and new discoveries. You may even surprise yourself.

Don't compare countries – it's only going to make you back pedal. Things are not the same and they never will be – but this isn't a bad thing –it's just different. Accept that your new country operates differently and go with the flow. Fighting against it or bad mouthing your new country is damaging not only to your own spirit - but locals won't appreciate it.

Learn the language – there's nothing more powerful than being able to walk down the street of your new town practising your language skills, no matter how basic they are, and having a positive experience. Locals will appreciate that you are trying and most I'm sure will be very accommodating by speaking slowly and clearly to ensure you understand.

Don't look for an English speaking hairdresser, dentist, beautician etc. but one that speaks the local language. You'll soon notice that you are building up different vocabulary groups which will help you to hold conversations as you get more confident with your new language.

Build up your own network (and I don't mean exclusively expats, but locals too). There's nothing nicer than having your own group of friends to call upon for the good times and also for the hard times.

Find a club that offers your sport or hobby. No running club in your town? Start one up. Keep busy, social and active and those positive endorphins will keep flowing.

Respect the culture. As you would when you are on holidays in a foreign place, respect cultural expectations, courtesies and traditions. Just because you 'live' there, doesn't mean you can ignore these things. Again, locals will appreciate that you are taking the time to learn and will help you if you make a few mistakes along the way.

Relax. Take each day as it comes and set yourself small goals. There's nothing more rewarding that knowing you have achieved something each week rather than putting it all in the 'too hard basket' and not getting anywhere. Pat yourself on the back each week and keep going.

Author: Marita Fuhrer

Marita Fuhrer is Australian with Swiss heritage. Marita relocated from Melbourne to Bern and became Marketing Manager at Packimpex. Leaving behind a colourful work history including PR & event management, adult education and teaching piano – she now enjoys working closely with Packimpex’s vibrant international community. Marita loves Bern, its people, and its uniqueness.

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  • 9/17/16 2:37 PM

    Your information on Swiss Nature Parks was just what I needed for an article I'm working on, for possible publication in High Country News.

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