Entering a new culture is always a challenge, no matter how many times you’ve done it before. So, how do you move into neighborhood, a new town, in a different culture from your own?
In the years we’ve lived in Asia, we have had some wonderful neighbors. Some have turned out to be very helpful and some have even turned out to be great friends. I always wish that when we move into a new place that the neighbors would take the initiative to come over and welcome us. What is usually the case, however, is that we have to be proactive and make a point to meet people. I try to put myself in their shoes and realize that it must be intimidating for them to introduce themselves to the new foreigner living next door, especially if they think that they won’t be able to communicate with me.
We have found that we need to be the ones to make the point of meeting people and showing ourselves to be friendly. Even though those first few meetings can be awkward, it sets us up for good relationships that can be a real asset to adjusting to a new place. Although I’m sure that we’ve unknowingly offended some at times, we’ve found people to be very gracious and accepting. Taking the effort to show yourself friendly always pays off.