Moving to a new place – in my case, a new country – is always daunting. However, make the most of the resource right at your fingertips: your mobile phone.
Like many millennials, my smartphone is never out of reach. Whether waiting for the next ‘like’ on Instagram or checking a friend’s latest tweets, I’m glued to social media. While this habit can be seen as a waste of time, I underestimated how useful it would be when settling into a new country.
I discovered that Facebook is a great way to find out what’s going on if you’re new to an area. Local organisations, societies and even bars regularly keep their pages updated with events – ideal for newcomers looking to make friends and explore their new surroundings. For example, my friend and I regularly attend a ‘language exchange’ evening at a local bar, which we learned about via Facebook. It’s a fun way to practise our French!
I joined online groups for people in the same situation (for me, this was local British Council assistants). This helped me meet new people with similar interests and ask for advice. For example, when struggling with (famously complicated) French bureaucracy, it’s reassuring to hear that others have the same experiences. However, always follow safety guidelines if you meet people you’ve met online in real life.
Technology is also useful for learning languages. For example, try switching your phone’s language setting, and certain phrases become second nature. Apps like Duolingo are handy for revising grammar, and never underestimate the power of YouTube in learning a new language. By watching videos and vlogs, I’ve picked up plenty of new expressions (especially casual phrases that I’m unlikely to come across in school).
Social media is fantastic for keeping in touch with friends and family back home. For example, Skype calls are perfect for keeping homesickness at bay. However, be careful not to spend too long gazing at your friends’ tweets and Instagram posts. It’s really easy to get wrapped up in missing home and feel left out, rather than making the most of your new surroundings.
So, while it might seem that staring at a mobile phone screen is antisocial, it helped me to make the most of moving abroad.
Do you think you’d use your smartphone in the same ways as Molly if you moved to a new place?