10 Ways to Date Your New Home
By Laurie Melin
Relocation is intimidating. Whether your move is regional, national, or international, the transition is an adjustment. Even if you’re excited for the move, the reality is that settling in is not instant. Feeling really comfortable in a new place and within a new group of people always takes time.
Besides language differences, what if you cannot find people who share your background or your values or even your interests? What do you do when everything is different from what you are used to and from what you enjoy? How do you connect?
Think of life in your new community as a new relationship. How do you build relationships — romantic or otherwise — with other people? You spend time with them, do things together, and talk about their interests, their background, and the things you have in common. As you get to know them better, you build trust and mutual appreciation.
“Dating” your new community may not make you fall in love with it, but the activities below can help you get to know it and appreciate it. They may also help you meet local residents and begin building personal relationships that connect you on a deeper level to individuals as well as to the culture you are learning about.
1. Make a point of introducing yourself to your neighbors.
When you move into your new home, your neighbors might come to your door or you might walk up to theirs and say hello. In any case, introducing yourself when you meet can be a good way to build a safety net. People watch out for friends, and knowing your neighbors generally makes you safer. Your neighborly acquaintance may also lead to shared conversations, household supplies, gardening tips, child-rearing help, and more. It opens the door to begin interacting at a deeper level with people who are around you every day.
2. Take public transportation if available.
Public transportation gives you a peak into the real lives of real people. Who takes it? How absorbed in technology are they? How much do they like talking with people around them? How boisterous are they? How reserved? How much space do they prefer to leave between themselves? How organized is the line to get on the bus or train? Learn by example what behavior is considered normal and acceptable in these settings.
3. Visit favorite spots of locals and tourists.
Travel guides list beautiful, interesting locations in your new community. Check them out! While you are there, take note: Who comes here? Who enjoys this place? Make a point of visiting local favorites, too. Where do locals go to relax? Where do they go out to eat? Where do they go on the weekend? Many of these places are not in guide books, but they’re powerful points of connection for people who live full-time in your community.
4. Visit art and history museums, landmarks, monuments, memorials, forts, etc.
The monuments, memorials, and landmarks of a place are the most obvious clue to what is and was important to any group of people. Take your own field trips and find out who these structures were built to honor. Learn more by visiting history museums large and small. How does this community discuss and represent its struggles and triumphs? Discover art museums in the area. Who and what do locals connect with? What do they commemorate?
5. Visit churches and/or other religious meetings – even if you’re not particularly religious.
Observing and experiencing the religious traditions of a community is a window into the deepest beliefs and values of that community. Religion always shapes the human experience, and knowing more about the religious past and present of your community can help you understand the people living around you.
6. Start learning the local language.
If locals speak a different language than you, start learning it. This may be the hardest item on this list and take the most time, but it is also one of the most important ways to get to know a place and the people who live there. Do not stress about making mistakes as you learn. Speaking with someone in his/her own language opens the door to a deeper personal connection as you demonstrate your interest in understanding the culture and your desire to become part of it.
7. Plug in to local news sources: watch local TV, listen to local radio, and read local newspapers.
Want to know what people care about? Watch their television stations. Listen to them call in on the radio. Read the op-eds and life/culture sections in their newspapers. Learn about the (good and bad) news that matters to their daily lives as well as the topics that interest them.
8. Learn to cook local food.
While watching local TV, you might find a cooking show. In the newspaper, there might be suggested recipes. When talking to your neighbor, you might hear about or smell a new dish – ask for the recipe! You do not need to change your diet completely, but become familiar with the food your community enjoys. Why do they eat it? Where does it come from? Cook it, eat it, share it, learn to appreciate it….even if you do not want to eat it every night.
9. Explore community life through local eyes: Read their books. Listen to their music. Learn the dances they love.
What music do your neighbors listen to? What did they read growing up in school? What do they dance to on Friday and Saturday nights? Build some commonality by experiencing these things, then go out and do/enjoy them with the people around you!
10. Participate in local celebrations, festivals, parades, fairs, etc.
Check out health fairs, holiday parades, independence day festivals, government celebrations, and more. These events happen because the organizers expect a crowd. Find out why people go. How do they connect with the event? Do you connect with it, too? How is it different from a similar event back home? How is it alike?
We are not all the same. Deep down, different values and beliefs have shaped people living in different cultures. Our personal and cultural background influences the way we interact with others and the way we see our world. We cannot overcome all obstacles by ignoring our differences, but we can build relationships on mutual interest and respect.
Spend time getting to know your new community after relocation. The more you learn about it, the more it may interest you, and the more you may care about it, which makes forming connections with people there much easier.
For further cultural insights useful throughout your transition to Puerto Rico, visit http://global-perceptions.com/. Global Perceptions, your relocation specialist in Puerto Rico, works closely with you, your family, and your company to assure that your relocation goes as smoothly as possible.