9 Dec 2020
Pros and cons of living in an ‘expat bubble’
Newly arrived expats often struggle to adapt to a new country. That’s why the familiarity of the ‘expat bubble’ is an ideal starting point. It makes total sense that expats gravitate towards other expats, but living exclusively within the expat community can be limiting if full immersion is your aim. If that is your mission, you don’t need to completely pop the expat bubble. Like many things in life, it’s all about striking the right balance – here’s how you can have the best of both worlds.
Getting the most out of the expat community
The soft landing: So you’re embarking on a new cultural adventure in a strange new environment. New arrivals should never feel guilty about diving into headfirst into the expat bubble. Let’s face it, we all do it. Everyone wants that soft landing with a few of the familiarities of home while acclimatising. You’ll immediately want someone you can relate to with shared experiences offering support and guidance. Even savvy locals cannot truly comprehend the potential culture shocks that await you.
The expat grapevine: Asia’s big cities all have established expat networks and associations for sports, culture, business and socialising. This is a great way to get out there and network with like-minded people and build important contacts while finding your feet. They also unlock surprising immersive opportunities as many are affiliated with social causes.
Multicultural: You’re here to explore a new way of life, but being ‘stuck in the bubble’ can also offer a diverse multicultural experience. You’ll find an eclectic population worthy of a United Nations meeting made up of many languages and different perspectives. If you embrace it from the beginning, you’ll get a better handle on what makes the city tick – and how people from very diverse backgrounds fit into the multicultural mix.
Breaking out of the bubble and going local
Local know-how: While you may be able to chow down on those must-have tastes of home – from burritos to vegemite – you’ll likely miss out on that fabulous hole in the wall eatery that locals rave about. Local know-how is priceless in so many ways, and the first step is to break out of the bubble. You’ll soon wise up on where to buy the freshest food, skip lines at popular venues and know how to bag the cheapest deals for almost everything.
Get out there and mingle: Not only is it a no-brainer for learning the lingo in the most natural setting, but every expat needs to get out of their comfort zone. Living exclusively in the bubble deprives you of so many cool experiences. It’s liberating, even starting with a few baby steps. A stroll around an under-the-radar local market to hone those haggling skills, or joining a local sports club with your kids can unlock interactions you probably never thought would be possible.