Moving abroad can be a challenging experience. You leave your family, friends and everything you know behind. You enter a new culture where the customs and sometimes the language are different.
But it’s also exciting. It’s a time to discover new things, make new friends and begin a new adventure.
I currently work as a language assistant in Lyon, France. I’ve visited France many times before but this is my first time living here. To feel at home in France I involve myself in the culture as much as possible. But this is challenging. It isn’t hard to find other English speakers and make friends with people that have the same or similar cultural customs to me.
So what are the best ways to involve yourself in the new culture whilst living abroad?
Live with a native speaker
There are many advantages to living with a native speaker. Firstly, you have a friend! Living alone can be a lonely experience, especially if you’re far from home. I’ve also had the opportunity to meet my housemate’s friends and socialise with them. Secondly, you can speak the local language every day. And thirdly, you have someone to tell you about the cultural customs and interesting places in the area.
Volunteering is a great way to meet people of different ages in your local area. I currently volunteer with homeless people through my local church. This is an insightful experience and speaking with homeless people about their life stories is improving my French vocabulary and understanding. I am also able to form relationships with people that I may not have met otherwise.
Socialise with the local people
The thought of making friends and mixing with the local people may seem scary at first but it’s worth it. You can meet other people in the area by joining a club, attending an evening class or participating in a language exchange with people that are interested in learning your native language.
Try the local food
The food in France is amazing and discovering new food is a fun experience. I’ve tried things that I’ve never tried before and my knowledge of the different bread and cheese types has grown greatly.
Would you like to live abroad at some point in the future?