Thursday, July 9, 2015

Explore and Conquer

New in town

Arrived, but where?

Finally, after packing all your stuff, saying goodbye to your relatives and drinking your last beer with friends the adventure can begin. In most of the cases you will choose the car, bus, train or an airplane to reach your new home. Despite you already have researched online for accommodation, the university or a job and also have been successful on that, you still are going to feel a little bit lost as soon as you leave the train. By finding youself in an unknown environment will let you experience some natural feelings like curiosity, confidence but also fear. Last mentioned is of course not alwas very helpful.

So what can you do to counter this reaction?

Well, if you have in advance the option to travel to your new destination before you actually move there, do it! Sometimes we have the opportunity to start a new job in another city some hours away. Usually we balance if it's worth it to take the job and move, but here is the point, we do this based on assumptions. We assume that our new company will give us the chance to show our skills, we assume that most people will treat us friendly and fair and we assume that the place itself isn't going to be that bad. Those assumptions are often based on what we have heard about our destination. For example, if I would ask you how it probably is to live in Naples, Italy some people would instantly say: 'isn't it a dangerous place?', 'it is a poor and dirty city' or 'I think you find there very friedly and open people'. Despite there might be some true in such statements you will figure out that everyone does have it's own perception of the city and that there is no real 'truth'. If people complain about the infrastructure, this may do not apply to you because you are used to have even worse experiences or because you will not need them so much since your flat is right next to the university. The same applies to the assessment about the mentality of the people. An often used perception about Germans is, that they are hardworking and always on time but also that they are very cold. This is only the message out there, but when you come and meet the right persons you will may prove this prejudice wrong. Probably you will find not quite perfect but very friendly persons - you never know!

Don't let you intimidate yourself beforehand. Try to prepare yourself by self-experiencing how live is there, discover places and memorize major hubs of the city. After you arrived try to have a walk through the streets, visit parks and shopping areas and most important talk with natives, random people. 

It's also very helpful to talk as soonas you arrived with your new working colleagues, you barely know, to increase you knowledge about the city and how they evaluate things. It's a great source you shouldn't waste and who knows, may they spontaneously will invite you after work to the bar you talked about with them at the lunch break. 

This topic is not only a perfect opener to every conversation at the beginning but also gives you information about the environment around you. No one is going to laugh at you for 'stupid questions', because they know that you are new in town. Moreover they will try to help and guide you. 

In case you have days where no one of your new contacts does have time to drink or eat something together, I nevertheless recommend to go out and explore the area by yourself. This will not only help you to find the next supermarket but also will help yourself to really feel a home. You will start recognizing some spots that are somehow special for you and this will be the first step of really arriving. Furthermore this knowledge gives you the chance to participate more in conversations between locals and also invite people to your familiar places. All this can be very helpful for further steps as I'll describe in further posts.

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