Integrating Overseas: Expat Suggestions
US expats move abroad each year. Some as part of the military and others because they are recruited by overseas companies. In the last two blogs, concepts such as fitting in and integrating as a local have been explored. This is a continuation of things you may wish to try as a means of fitting in like a local.
Living like a local in another country is hard; especially, when it is a country that has a different language, clear distinction of heritage, and customs. Unfortunately, stereotypes and previous visitors will set a clear stigma against you. The fact that you may hold a job that others feel could have gone to a citizen of the country or themselves does not help.
But, you can make a little easier as an expat by assimilating. You need to get out there and enjoy the culture. Yes, keeping things around you like family via Skype that you love is important, but in the same manner, you do need to live like a local.
Do not live like a tourist taking in the sights and going to the top places your guidebook sends you. Instead, you need to ask around for the best places to eat. For example, if you are in Thailand, you are going to have hundreds of Thai restaurants, some that cater to tourists with higher prices, tamped down food in terms of spices, and farangs will be present everywhere.
If you really want to be a local, you should find out where locals hang out. You cannot just go. You do need someone along that helps you and will keep you in the places that will be safe. As you may understand, when you are abroad there are the stereotypes, where you are more apt to find trouble than to live like a local.
Co-workers, groups, and apps can help you find the places that welcome your business and will not create a rift if you walk in the door. Some of the best ways to ease into the world is by attending cultural events, asking where your co-workers go to eat and seeing if they will bring you. In many Asian cultures the new person is usually treated to a meal to welcome them, but as an outsider you may start off by offering a meal to help you get acquainted.
Also ask where the locals shop versus going to tourist shops. It can help.