Thursday, 28 May 2015

Me, myself and I - Going native without losing your identity

For a lot of expats, a sense of ‘going native’ is the ultimate goal – and from day one it’s all about immersing yourself in the local culture and community.  But when you reach ‘native’ status, is there a chance of losing yourself within your new identity?  Expats can often experience a confused cultural identity; adapting to a new country whilst keeping hold of a past identity can be a challenge, in terms of self-perception, but also when it comes to repatriation.  Here’s some ways of retaining a sense of who you are whilst going native.

The importance of routine

Keeping hold of even the smallest parts of your daily routine is a way of living your new life, whilst keeping segments of your old lifestyle.  This could be going for a daily run, having a morning coffee, or having catch ups with family members on a particular day of the week.  This is a great way to still feel like you, even in new surroundings. 

Remembering your Mother Tongue

Dreaming in the local language is often identified as a way of feeling completely settled in, and by moving to somewhere where speaking a new language is necessary, you’ll probably pick it up pretty quickly.  From this, a lot of expats make a habit of thinking in their second language.  Feeling like you are losing touch with your mother tongue can be quite stressful, and feel like losing a part of yourself.  Therefore, speaking a few times a week in your first language can be a great way to keep in touch with your roots, and gives another excuse to catch up with friends and family at home. 

Don’t forget about your interests

Becoming immersed in a new culture and community is as exciting as it is enjoyable, and you will no doubt pick up lots of new interests, routines and hobbies.  However, picking up these does by no means mean that you can’t keep hold of your old ones.  Seek out clubs or societies in your local area which will make it easy for you to keep up hobbies – be that playing sport, music, or painting.  Alternatively, make sure you schedule some time into your day for you to focus on these yourself. 

Keep up with the news

With so much of what’s going on around the globe available to view online, it is easy to follow on the events which are happening in your home town.  The ability to keep up with your roots this way can be a surprisingly effective way feeling closer to the place you’ve left behind – you might even find you’re more in the loop on what’s happening at home than you did when you lived there…!

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