How to feel at home in a ‘close-knit community’

If you’re used to the bright lights of the big city, moving to a small city or town can often be intimidating, especially when you don’t speak the language. But a few simple networking moves can help you settle in.

Easily isolated

Wherever you relocate in the world there will be a period of adjustment, but moving to a small, quiet city can be disconcerting. There are less distractions and less cultural attractions to divert you. You can’t lose yourself in the downtown ‘crowd’. There may be no cosmopolitan dining scene to explore. If the city or town feels like a close-knit community, as a newcomer, you might wonder where or how you will ever fit in. Sitting at home, it’s easy to feel isolated.

Use our directory

But according to Global Connection consultant Eva Bonsel, there are some simple ways to get out of the house and start mingling. “For starters, I always advise our members to make use of Global Connection’s Members’ Directory. You can easily see who else is in the same location. In my experience, people are really responsive and supportive,” says Eva, who recently supported expat partner Robine Alaerts to adjust to life in Nuremberg. “Meeting an established expat partner for a quick coffee can be very helpful.”

Shared activities

“It’s always good to join a sports team, a club or a class of some kind. Friendships form around a shared activity. Robine, who was used to living in major cities, and speaks multiple languages fluently, was feeling isolated after relocating. That’s understandable. She didn’t know anyone and she didn’t speak German. Signing up for a language class really helped her. All of her classmates were ‘in the same boat’ – they were all newcomers to Nuremberg and unable to speak the language,” says Eva, who has been an expat herself for many years.

Be proactive

“I told Robine what she was experiencing is very normal. Everyone has to go through a period of adjustment. It’s often reassuring just to hear someone say that, someone who understands what you’re going through,” says Eva of Robine, who went on to find work as an instructor at a yoga studio and met many young, like-minded German and expat friends. “Robine is a very motivated person. Once someone explains what they want to do, it’s just about managing expectations and sending them in the right direction.”

This article was originally published for the thousands of expat partners that Global Connection supports around the globe. It is reproduced here in its original form.

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