Packing your bags, belongings and family up in order to emigrate from South Africa can be a stressful and daunting task but if you take it one step at a time, it’s a little less overwhelming. The same can be said for settling into a new country. Taking it one day at a time, and being gentle with yourself is the only way to do it. Yes, you’re likely to be homesick but it’s important to not to lose sight of the reasons you decided that moving to another country was the best next step you could take. With this in mind, let’s take a look at some practical tips and tricks to help you as a new South African expat to settle into your new home.
Remember that while it might not feel like home right away, you’ll get there eventually
Sure, everything is different in your new country. It’s supposed to be. You emigrated from South Africa for a reason so try to avoid comparative behaviour as much as possible. It’s only different because you’re not yet familiar with it. Embrace the new experience that is going to the supermarket, using public transport, walking in the street late at night and letting your kids play outside. Do things you usually wouldn’t do, try things that would normally make you hesitate. Say ‘yes please’ more than you say ‘no thank you’ – you might land up surprising yourself and discovering great pleasure in doing things differently.
Do your best to overcome any language barriers
Understanding the basic phrases you will need on a daily basis can help you settle much faster. Google Translate on your phone can help, as well as language learning apps. Your pronunciation might not be spot-on in the early days, and you might find yourself using a lot of hand gestures but the more you practice, the better you’ll get. Even if the people around you can speak English, taking the time to learn the language of your new home will be greatly appreciated by your new neighbours and co-workers. You’ll probably even discover that people are willing to help you learn new things, when they see that you’re making an effort to communicate on their terms.
In time you may want to consider learning the local language completely, especially if your relocation is a long term move.
Research everything and ask as many questions as you can
Expats are usually drawn to each other, and there is likely to already be existing expat communities (whether online or in real life) that you can join. These are safe spaces where there are no stupid questions (everyone was a newbie expat once) and people ar more than willing to share their insights and experiences as to how life works in your new chosen home town.
Learn as much as you can about things like public transport, healthcare, recreational options, schooling, and work life from people who have gone through the same things you’re going through right now. Walking into new situations with a basic idea of what to expect (or at least what not to expect) can help take the edge off your relocation anxiety. The most important thing to remember is that if you are uncertain about something, you should ask someone for clarification. If you can’t ask, observe how others act and this should help you follow suit. More often than not, someone will notice that you’re unsure and offer assistance to get you on the right path.
Embrace the opportunity to be a tourist
Exploring is how you’ll learn. Immerse yourself in the culture, find out what activities are happening, research local holidays and tourist attractions and get yourself out there. Give everything a chance – from restaurants, to museums, art galleriesand other cultural hotspots – there’s something new to learn and experience every time you step out of your comfort zone.
Make new friends and get to know your neighbours
Meeting new people can be daunting. But this is one of the most effective ways to feel at home. Once you’ve got a few friends in place, it’s much easier to distract yourself from any homesickness you might experience. Joining an expat group, volunteering your time at a local charity or animal rescue organisation, or becoming a member of clubs that appeal to your interests can help you quickly develop a network of friends.
Be patient with yourself and understand that there will be bad days that will make you question your choices
Even the most extroverted, confident and prepared people take time to settle in. You cannot anticipate every eventuality and it’s going to take time to understand the nuances of the culture and how things work from a bureaucratic perspective. Patience and persistence will be an essential part of learning to adapt to life in a new country, so don’t expect yourself to get it all straight away.
Being patient is so important, don’t expect it all at once and try things before saying know. If you give your new home time, you will settle in and be able to embrace all the elements which expat living brings.
Expert advice for SA expats right here at FinGlobal
FinGlobal is an emigration team that makes the financial clutter surrounding emigration easier to understand. A smooth emigration process can be yours if you’re willing to seek the advice and guidance of professionals in the industry. The company has assisted thousands of South Africans with their emigration needs and requirements. So whether you’re simply looking to give back to your community or get your finances for the big move over the rough seas, we’re here to provide you with unending support.
We welcome you to contact FinGlobal for professional, accredited emigration advice backed by a firm foundation of over ten years in the industry. We provide meticulous advice and services to South Africans regarding their tax, pensions, FOREX, retirement annuities, and more.
To discuss your unique needs with our team, simply get in touch with us. Give us a call at +27 28 312 2764 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will assist you promptly.