Despite our modern communication technology, telephone, email, facebook, twitter, which allow us to stay in touch 24/7 across continents, whenever you move to a different country, your social network will still be left behind. That might not be obvious at first glance. However, once you’re gone, you quickly realize how important having friends and family close by actually is. Suddenly you can’t quickly call over a friend to help with assembling that new cupboard, your sister is not available to look after the children for an hour, and there is no more girls’ night at home with a movie and pizza.
Some might feel that sudden void more than others, but for all it is advisable to make new acquaintances and friends close by as soon as possible. This is especially true for children or a “trailing spouse”. Very often the partner will not be have a work visa or simply not have found a suitable job yet, leaving a big void that needs to be filled. Children strongly react to the sudden lack of any of the familiar friends to play with.
Kindergarten or school are natural places for children to quickly meet new people and strike up new friendships, and for the working partner colleagues easily fill the need for social interaction. A not working partner, however, will quickly start to feel isolated.
This is an aspect that should not be underestimated. The most common reason for failed postings in foreign countries has nothing to do with the job or the location, but with the family simply not being able to handle the new situation. So, what is to be done?
By now, many companies have become aware of that problem and will extend help for a job hunt, or offer the necessary equipment to allow the partner to work from their new home. It needs to be said, though, that the latter option only counters the feeling of being ‘lost’ for a little while.
At the end of the day, the most important thing is to socialize and form new friendships outside the work environment as quickly as possible. How exactly that is accomplish will depend on individual preferences and the location itself. If there are children in the family, getting in contact with other parents is fairly easy. Hobbies, too, are a good tool to meet people; or you could simply invite the neighbors to a cup of coffee soon after your arrival. Getting active in local clubs and associations is also recommended. One thing you simply cannot be at this point: shy.
It hardly needs mentioning that it is also important to pay some attention to the culture and customs of the country you are moving to, along with acquiring at least some basic knowledge of the local language. You will have a much easier time getting in contact with people if you made that effort.