As a Lingo Live remote employee, I’m able to live anywhere in the world – as long as it has a wifi connection! I enjoy living in new and different places, and also working for a company who believes in experiencing and learning about other cultures.
Throughout my extensive travels, I’ve a learned a thing or two about being a new arrival to a foreign city and country. Everything can be overwhelming. The simplest daily tasks become Olympic feats. For example, visiting the supermarket is not unlike stepping into Mordor (so many brands of canned anchovies in my case), and feeling alone is the new normal. It is a daunting experience to be sure. At times it seems a language barrier is the least of your worries, but at the same time it’s the main reason you feel lost and out of place. Not being able to communicate easily with others can lead to feelings of isolation.
Does this sound terrifying? Are you currently in this situation or are you about to make an international move? My simple advice comes in two words.
It’s a phrasal verb that makes us think about electricity — an action that is done in order to receive power and energy. Not only do we plug in electronic devices, but we can also use this expression to talk about people. Ourselves. Plugging in is about finding a social “power current” that can fill us with energy and help us find our way. As an American living abroad, I have experienced plugging in various times in several different cities throughout my adult life. This is the one piece of advice I can give that actually made a difference to combat those dark, lonely, rainy nights.
How might someone plug in?
- Attend work events with people who don’t speak your native language. In large companies, there is often a social culture due to the number of employees of similar ages and interests. Happy hours, conferences, special lunches – sign up for them and actually go.
- Join a Meetup or language exchange. These groups are specifically designed for people who don’t know a lot of people and want to connect with others who share their interests. There are Meetups in every large city and most small cities too. In Europe, language exchanges exist nearly everywhere due to the number of international students and workers.
- Eat differently from time to time. Try to get out of your culinary comfort zone by tasting some local dishes. Learn to cook them at home. Taking a cooking class could give a power boost to your social life and your cooking skills!
- Learn something new. Take up a hobby that you might not have the opportunity to try back home by attending a class. This is a surefire way to meet people with similar interests and it boosts your creativity, as well as your courage.
There’s no doubt that moving abroad is a challenging experience. Armed with a positive attitude and access to an internet search engine, you can find people to connect with that will help ease the pain of your transition. How do you envision yourself plugging in? What types of social groups might give you the energy you need?
— Dina Spencer, Community Manager, Lingo Live