8 Ways to Become a “Local” in Under One Year
Anyone who’s serious about travel has experienced that feeling: walking around town, seeing beautiful things, and, all of a sudden, you’re forced to reckon with the fact that you’re in love with your new surroundings.
Whether you’re just visiting a place for a few days or living there permanently, should you actually decide to stay, you may be tempted to try to become a “local”. While you may never actually be a local, you can sure mimic one! Plus, once you start to fit into the natural scenery of a place just like a local would, a whole new world can open up to you.
Here are 8 ways to transform your life from outsider to bona-fide local in under a year.
1. Date someone from there
While it may not work for everyone (and we’re only suggesting this to our single friends out there!), it’s a fact that one of the quickest and easiest ways to become acquainted with a culture, a language, and a community is to date or marry a local. If you happen to find someone in your new location, the place can open up to you like you’ve never seen before.
2. Befriend many local people
Whether or not dating is on the agenda, you can certainly befriend lots of locals. Try going to local bars, meeting people in groups or clubs for hobbies you love, or even doing language exchanges. If you have a job in your location, try befriending your co-workers and their friends. It’s actually amazing how many different people you can start to meet.
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3. Live with a host family or roommates who are locals
A great option for people who are staying in a place for a while – and especially if it’s their first time there – is to live with a host family or local roomies. Not only will it be advantageous for language and culture exchange, but also for getting an idea of the new location and great things to do there.
4. Pay special attention to the accent (even if your language skills still aren’t great)
While everyone has an accent to someone, and there’s just no way to avoid this, it’s important to at least be aware of your accent and how it’s different from the local one. As you get more acclimated to your life in your new place, you should try to minimise your accent and work on your fluency as much as possible.
5. Note the fashion trends
Even if your appearance could not be more different than that of a local if you actually tried, it’s still flattering to note the fashion trends of a place (if applicable) and blend in as much as possible. While it’s not good to change yourself or your appearance too much for the sake of “blending in,” a little effort may go a long way toward feeling more at home in a place.
6. Study the body language and social cues of people around you
Social cues and perceptions of personal space are ever-changing, especially between cultures. Try to learn these cues as soon as you can and adapt them to your arsenal as soon as possible. If you can avoid facing embarrassment, frustration, and anxiety over these cultural differences, it can definitely make your experience much better.
7. Expand your activities beyond the touristy areas (if safe to do so)
Obviously, this will not be possible for everyone, but if it is possible for you to venture into areas outside of the tourist confines, do so. You’ll probably be amazed by what you experience and how everyone treats you.
8. Volunteer in your community to strengthen your ties
Nothing shows your solidarity and support for your new location more than giving of your time freely. Consider volunteering for a cause that you love in your new city – it will give you a great way to befriend locals and show support for something you care about.
How do you go from outsider to local? Share your tips in the comments!