Arrival within a new country: How to integrate rapidly and stay ZEN

global deal goldBy Julia Noyel

Arriving in a new working and living environment is not always easy, especially if you don’t know anybody at the host country. Your friends are far away and maybe you feel a bit alone. You will have to find new friends, especially if you decide to expatriate for a period of 1 to 3 years. In this article you will learn more how Irma from Mexico managed her integration to France.

Spending the whole day at work, we might have no time to meet other people a part people from work that most of the times have already their own friends and life style. If we expatriate with our family, our partner might stay at home and take care of the children. If our partner does not currently speak the language he /she might stay isolated or stig together with other expats hopefully from other countries, or from the same country than us.
Sometimes it is not easy as confirms Irma from Mexico “After have lived for three years in France, I still was not speaking French. I was working within an international environment. During work I spoke English the whole day and out of work I hanged out with other expats that also spoke English. This situation did not facilitate things to speak French fluently and to meet French people.When I realize that I was not completely integrated due to this situation, I decide to be closer to the French I knew and get to know them and their friends, making the effort to improve my French and learn (and understand) their way of living and thinking.”

It is clear that in order to integrate rapidly within a new culture and to improve our language skills the best way is to meet locals. It is enriching experience that allows us to get to know better the culture and opens our mind to different ways of being and thinking. We become more tolerate and accept difference, we also learn a lot about our own culture and ourselves, we appreciate more our origins and normally we are curious about other people origins.

IrmaIrma: “After three years in France, I move to Lyon and started a job within a French company. I finally had to learn rapidly. I also started to get out with French colleagues”



How is this possible to meet locals if we do not fluently speak the language

A new country, a different environment, new customs and people. Julia Noyel, Founder of ZenExpat’: “ We encourage all expats to sort of the expats community and meet locals. This is the best way to learn rapidly a new language and to understand and live the culture. In order to help expats to meet locals and to make friends, ZenExpat launched Zenexpat online, first mentoring network where expat helps expat.”
Sometimes we do not know how to meet locals and stay isolated. If we do not try to get out of it, we might remain at intermediary language level and this might lead to a feeling of dissatisfaction.

Some examples how you easily can meet locals and improve your language skills while expatriation:

1. Speak French! Benefit from each moment to use your skills: e.g. when you are doing shopping, going to the pharmacy, the doctor…
2. Join a sport club, take painting or cooking lessons, participate in network meetings
3. Invite your French colleagues at home
4. Make the first step: Do not hesitate to take initiative, do not wait that people come to you
5. Listen to the radio, TV, read French newspaper or magazine
6. Ask for assistance and friendship on online forums (ZenExpat’ online)

©ZenExpat’ Publications 2011; Crédits photos: Julia Noyel, Irma Giron, Fotolia