How To: Integrate into a Culture

Moving to another country? Planning on it in the future?Here are a few tips on how to move successfully. Whether the country is right next door or on the other side of the planet, as long as you’re persistent, you can succeed.

1. Learn the Language
This is probably the most referred to tip from fellow travelers or those who have never traveled. Everyone knows the best way to integrate into a culture is by showing empathy towards your neighbors. Sure, your new neighbor could know your native language fluently, but to be willing to take the time to understand it shows respect for the people and the culture.
2. Take up a new wardrobe
Some cultures may not require this, but if you’re moving from Germany to Saudi Arabia, you’ll need to buy a new wardrobe. Sometimes the changes in dress could come from various laws enforcing a particular dress code, but not always. Often times to dress similar as the culture is to show respect and understanding.
3. People Are Different
At first, the difference could be novel, and perhaps be the reason for wanting to move. Eventually, the novelty wears off. What’s left is just you and the people around which you now live. The costumes are different, and not always in a good way (or at least what you may think is good). You’ll have to embrace these differences and either swim atop the fads and the costumes or sink to the bottom and fail.
4. Forget Stereotypes
The idea of stereotypes makes sense. Our brains process 11 trillion bits of information every second so, as you can imagine, we’ve come up with ways to save our brains time and effort with recalling memories. By stereotyping, or lumping groups of people together as similar based on their background, it helps our brain save much needed power to process more pressing matters. Stereotypes, however, can be harmful when living in a new country, immersed in a new culture. It may be easier to chalk them up in clumps, but it will leave you feeling like an outsider. Make the effort to understand the people around you and why they do what they do.
5. Be Yourself!
Despite the earlier tips saying you need to change, don’t forget who you are! Anyone from any culture can tell when someone isn’t being themselves. The trick? Find a balance. Try your best to blend in, but also realize blunders happen. Maybe you wear the wrong thing for the wrong event, or saying something inappropriate, as long as you’re trying, others will be grateful. In return, you may find others try the same for you.
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