So you’ve decided to move to Buenos Aires. It tougher than you might think. Most expats experience some serious culture shock after the first few months of honeymoon anesthesia wears off. Here are some hints. I welcome more.
1. Avoid all needy expats at all costs
There is a love/hate relationship between expats and themselves. It’s the nature of the beast. On one hand it’s nice to be around folks who’re like you. On the other hand expats who are not here for love are, at best, a fairly unstable bunch and generally don’t have family or non expat support groups. At worst expats go braindead doing all kinds of stupid things they would never do back home. If you are acclimatizing to a new place, you’re better off not being around energy drainers.
2. If you are a needy expat, stop it
Look. It’s tough. The food is different. The weather is different. The bugs are different. You are lost all the time. People act differently.
That’s why you’re here! Enjoy it! I promise you that the only ones who’re really going to be intrested in your problems are needy expats who just waiting for a chance to dump their problems on you in return.
3. Take classes
This is a super awesome way to make friends. Cultural centers, workshops, take a night class in painting or dancing or singing or woodworking or anything else you’ve always wanted to do. Spanish class doesn’t count (see #1) .
It’s hard to excercise in a new place. Go running. Join the local soccer game. Or start your own (hopefully not with 100% expats). Join a gym. Take yoga classes and meet people. Whatever, just do something.
5. Realize that moving to a new place is tough
Things get better with time. You’ll eventually not be lost and you’ll be able to communicate just fine but it takes time. How long that time is and how much you enjoy it while you’re in it is up to you.
6. Every day do at least one nice thing for yourself that helps you feel at home.
One step each day. Even if it’s only one tiny little thing. It could be signing up for the gym, buying yourself a flower, drawing yourself a picture for your wall, relaxing and listening to some good music, something.
7. Learn the language
The sooner you can talk like you do in your native language the sooner you can be yourself in your new home. Until you can talk fluently you won’t be able to express who you are. This is unbelievably frustrating. You can take it down a notch by learning faster.
8. Get involved in the culture and community in which you live
I can’t speak for other places but it’s great to live in a place where not everything is owned by a multinational corporation (yet?). Take advantage of not having to feel isolated from your fellow human being. See where you can apply some of your skills. Try something out that you never have before. I’ve hardly got involved at all in the community around me after two years. I wish I had.