Almost 20 years ago, I moved to Germany from Ghana and it took me a very long time to warm up to the German life. In retrospect, I have noticed mistakes I could have avoided and things I could have done to make my transition smoother.
Moving to a new country can evoke emotions ranging from excitement to outright fear of the unknown. Concentrate more on fuelling the excitement and not so much on the fear; don’t worry about your fear (anxiety) because it is justified. Nevertheless, with proper planning and the right mindset, you can achieve a smooth transition into a new country and environment.
I believe you too can have a smooth transition and settle easily by considering the following factors:
Throughout my time in Germany, one thing has stuck out to and at the same time stuck with me: the willingness to integrate and settle in without upholding the barriers, both perceptible and imperceptible.
So, the first prerequisite for your settling to be even more pleasant and smoother, is to add the willingness to integrate into the new society and surroundings to your packing list. Be ready to open yourself up for new experiences, new perspectives and ways of living.
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#2. Be open
Openness and willingness go hand in hand: your willingness to explore and adjust to a new setting will require you not being narrow-minded. You will learn to tolerate what you can’t change and to live and let live. Learn to respect other cultures and take from these cultures to enrich your own life.
#3. Do your research
You need information. Period. One way to counter your fears is to research general information about the country, its history - the secrets of the future lie in the past-, its culture and particularly, that city you will be moving to BEFORE you move! Not only will researching calm your fears, researching will also fuel your excitement as you will find out what you should look forward to experiencing. As the Germans say: “Vorfreude ist die schönste Freude!” i.e. anticipation is the best joy!
#4. Know your surroundings!
Know where you are moving to and how to get around: find the supermarket, the café you’ll be frequenting, the laundromat you will be using till your washing machine arrives, etc.
#5. Figure out public transportation
Part of knowing your surroundings is knowing how to move from point A to B. So, find out how public transportation works. Public transportation is also quite efficient if you are looking for an opportunity to mingle with locals! Save the environment and make new friends!
"Yes, give yourself time to acclimate. Not everything will go smoothly but take a day or a week at a time and tackle the above-mentioned steps over and over again."
Now you know where to find what and how to move around. Next? EXPLORE! Actually, leave your house and go to the famous bar in your neighbourhood that booms with the daily live performances. Try street food joints e.g. Doner Kebab joint down the street. Make connections and get to know your community.
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#7. Partake in activities
Find out what activities and clubs are available in your vicinity. Find out how you can contribute your quota and make like-minded friends at the same time.
#8. Join expat groups on social media
Facebook is your go-to platform. There are several “new in the city” groups. Meet with fellow newbies for a bite or workout.
"Moving to a new country can evoke emotions ranging from excitement to outright fear of the unknown. Concentrate more on fuelling the excitement and not so much on the fear; don’t worry about your fear (anxiety) because it is justified."
#9. Stay busy
One way to stay busy is to work. You are inevitably going to learn the language or at least start some ‘broken’ version of it and interact with others.
#10. Learn the language
This is a step you can embark on even before you move. The language is unarguably going to make your time in the foreign country much easier and break even more barriers beyond the language barriers. Also, number one applies to this point. Be ready to learn. Your willingness will go a long long way.
Love goes through the stomach. Liebe geht durch den Magen! And that’s that!
#12. Give yourself time
Yes, give yourself time to acclimate. Not everything will go smoothly but take a day or a week at a time and tackle the above-mentioned steps over and over again. Enjoy the process!
If you have specific comments on any of these points and questions, please feel free to mention them in the comment section. We want you to dazzle in your new country and environment.
Phoebe Ayeley was born in Ghana and partly raised in Germany. Phoebe says “life as third culture child and in Germany has been eye-opening in many ways, but also at the same time a springboard for opportunities that only settling in a foreign land could give”. She mentions that one of such opportunities such as having a career as a legal translator fuelled her decision of starting a channel and platform with the aim of enlightening African