Settling In Smoothly Abroad

“Moving abroad allows you to bypass the window, and go straight through the front door!”


You found your way to the supermarket without taking unplanned detours. Finally, you begin to recognize my neighborhood and you can find your new house without navigation. Your mailbox has your name on it and it’s all starting to feel familiar. You’re on your way to feel like a local and wish to call this your new ‘’home’’.

Settling in another country, especially in the beginning, involves a series of stressful events, crisscrossed by occasional periods of calm.

From minor, meaningless things to more profound and serious matters, settling in often includes the following:

• learning new ways of doing things

• learning to do things you’ve never done be- fore

• stopping yourself from doing things you can no longer do

• adjusting to a completely new bunch of people

• learning to live and work in a location where you speak a foreign language

• getting used to various new and unusual circumstances

• learning to live without all kinds of familiar routines

After living abroad for many years, I can only see the positives and meaningful sides to the entire process of settling in. Looking back to my first move, I remember the stress I felt wasn’t so positive, to say the least. Not just the fear of the unknown, but also having to learn everything for the first time, from finding a house to learning the language to various registrations to get- ting to know the people. The process of settling in may feel fantastic on one day, and then anxiety creeps in the next. It’s a rollercoaster of emotions on a ride that lasts for a while.

Here is a list of suggestions from actual expat experiences from around the world to help you settle in more easily and successfully:

Things you can do with other people:

  • Invite people over to your house
  • Go to a movie, cafe, etc.
  • Participate in a team sport or fitness class
  • Work as a volunteer for a good cause
  • Find a cycle, walking, or running group

Things you can do on your own:

  • Read books, newspapers, or magazines
  • Cook a meal
  • Take a walk outside
  • Meditate
  • Go see a movie
  • Write in your journal
  • Go to a restaurant or café
  • Go shopping
  • Exercise or join a gym
  • Take a ride by bike, car, or bus
  • Watch people while sitting in a café or a park
  • Study a new language

Things to remember during difficult mo- ments:

  • This too will pass
  • I came here to experience a challenge
  • I’ve been through worse than this
  • It’s natural to feel down from time to time, no matter where
  • It’s not just me
  • Things didn’t always go well back home either
  • I have taken on a lot; It’s OK to feel overwhelmed from time to time

Patience Is a Virtue

Settling in can be a stressful challenge; it takes time, effort, and patience, which for some of us is easier than others.

Be open, trusting, patient, and enjoy the unique experience. Have fun, listen, smile, embrace change and discover more about the world and yourself.


I look forward to staying in touch with you, and sharing more information about integrating smoothly or becoming culturally competent, no matter where you are.

Meanwhile, leave a comment or visit and let me know how I can help.

Best of Luck,

Rachel Smets is a bestselling author, TEDx speaker, Lecturer and Cultural Trainer.

Rachel loves to inspire people and help them to become their best selves!

Living and working abroad for many years has broadened her mind, her understanding in cultures and she has learned to turn every challenge into a new opportunity.





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