How to fit in as an expat

Moving abroad is a great chance to enrich your career and your life, but optimising any expat experience means fitting in with the locals and becoming part of the culture. Read our top tips to help you integrate with your host county and make the most of your overseas opportunity:

Get to know the area

Spend your first few weeks in your host country, as well as any pre-trips, familiarising yourself with local area. Learn the native pronunciation of street names and place names. Find out where the nearest amenities are. The better you know your new locale, the less people will see you as a tourist or an outsider.

Learn the language

If you’re moving to a country with a different native language, it can be tempting to get by on the locals’ knowledge of English. But to properly integrate, it’s important to have at least some understanding of the local dialect. The more you know, the more people will open up to you, and the better you’ll fit in.

Take a course before you emigrate to gain at least a basic understanding of the host language. Then your real learning begins in-country. Wherever possible, ask the locals to converse with you in their native tongue; most people will be happy to help you learn.

Understand the culture

Like learning the language, you can start to understand your host country before you travel, but the real education begins after you emigrate. For starters, visit expat blogs and forums to get a feel for your destination before you go. Learn enough about the local history, music and sports teams to help you get by. Seek to understand the basics of dining and business etiquette and greeting customs so you don’t make any embarrassing faux pas.

After you arrive, don’t be tempted to just hang out with other expats. You can only truly understand a culture by becoming immersed in it, so spend plenty of time with the locals. Many people love to talk about their country, so ask lots of questions. Say yes to dinner invites, parties, nights out and other events as often as possible.

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