Expat Life

5 tips on how to adjust quicker in a new country as an expat mama

When I first moved abroad from my country I was 22. I enjoyed life, I loved the idea of moving to a new country where I can meet new people, speak new language, explore new culture. I promised myself that I will explore every single thing in the new country and I will meet as many new people as I could. And I did, I did all of that which I promised myself to do.
But, that is not the case when you are a mama of a small child moving to a new country. At least, that’s what I believed in.

It is hard, I won’t lie. But it’s hard the first few months. After some time, you will meet new mamas that are in the same boat as you, no matter how impossible that sounds, you will find new parks for you and your little one, you will find cafes and places to eat which will be suitable for small kids, and things will never be the same.

  1. Join a moms group.
    When i was pregnant and we decided to move to Turks and Caicos, my then director told me one very good advice which I will never forget (He was himself a new dad, expat and his wife was a new mom trying to fit in the new country). He told me: “As soon as you move to Turks and Caicos, look for a moms playdates or moms groups online, it’s the best thing that you can do to yourself. You will meet plenty of new moms who are going through the same struggles as you. You will learn many new things, you will discover many new places. You might not like every mom in the group, but you will meet one or two moms whom you will get along with and immediately your daily life will change.” – And he was right. He was so right!
    The moment I moved to Turks and Caicos I looked for a moms playdates groups. I found one, emailed them and joined them one week after. And it was the best thing I did. I was super depressed the first week when we moved to Turks and Caicos. I was alone with my daughter for 11-12 hours a day at home. I didn’t know any places yet, except for the nearest beach, I didn’t know any mama around me who was going through same struggles as me, so joining the moms group was very good thing for me.

  2. Find a favorite park
    If you are having hard time finding moms groups, find a park that you and your little one will enjoy. The more often you go the higher the possibility of meeting a new mama friend. On the beginning I personally visited almost every park that was near to our house, just so I can find the ideal one for my child’s age. I found 2 parks which were toddler friendly – but I ended up going more often to the one that was nearer to our house, and I ended up going every other day. One day we met a guy that was foreigner himself, but lived for a very long time in Japan. I guess that day we looked a little bit lost, and for him was obvious that we looked like we are not from that area. He approached us, we talked for about 30 minutes, told us about some cool places in the city and now we meet every now and then. He also has small children which was the perfect combination for us.

  3. Look for your ideal cafe / pub in your area
    This is another thing that will help you to enjoy your expat life even more. When we moved in Japan for the first time, we found an English pub on google near us. The owner Japanese himself happened to live in UK for a long time and spoke English very well. Once we got comfortable with him and his place we visited the pub for a drink or a dinner during the weekends very often. Now, his pub it’s our favorite place to go for any occasion, no matter if it’s anniversary, birthday or a regular date.
    I also, have a favorite local cafe where I visit almost every time we go to the park with my daughter. The place is very cosy, spacious, quiet and most importantly have a very tasty coffee and croissants 🙂. After session in the park we always pass by there, and my daughter enjoys to sit down, relax and have a little snack before heading home.

  4. Enroll your child to a daycare
    If you are willing to send your child to daycare, do not hesitate! That is the best thing I did for myself and for my daughter since moving in Japan. I have few hours for myself, to get things done or just to have a peaceful 2 hours in the day where I can just sit down and watch my favorite TV show.
    It took me quite a while to find an English speaking daycare but I did it at the end. After 6 months of living in Japan I finally found the courage to enroll my daughter in a daycare. The first few months she only attended 2-3 hours a day, once a week. Now, she is going twice a week and she loves it. She even learned few Japanese words from her friends. 

  5. Sign up for a language course or get a GYM membership. 
    If you are willing to go or have the time to attend some sort of course or fitness class than you are making a great choice. It is another way of having time for yourself. Plus, you get to learn something new, or meet someone new. You will forget about your everyday struggles and you will have fun with some grown ups for a change. I recently decided to start attending Japanese classes, at the moment I attend the classes online due to the situation in the world with the current pandemic. But soon enough we will start visiting an actual classroom, which I am very looking forward to it.

Please, remember to not get overwhelmed with the idea of moving to a new country. It will be a drastic change from your typical daily life, It will be stressful, It will be a cultural shock. But, once you get into your own routine, get into your comfort zone, discover all the new places, meet new people, learn few new words from the local language, find your favorite restaurants – it will be all worthy.  Few months ago we celebrated our first “moving anniversary” in Japan, and I told my husband: ” This move scared me so much on the beginning, but now I know that this move was the best decision we could ever make.”

Expat Mama of a toddler girl, currently living in Japan.

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