Here are a few signs you’re adjusting to a new country!

  • You find yourself using local body language to hail a cab, represent numbers or get someone’s attention for example. It comes naturally and you don’t have to think about it anymore. After spending four months in Peru a few years ago, I still find it weird waving someone over with my palm upwards. Some things just stick, I guess.
  • You can handle basics in the new language: please, thank you, numbers and questions. You’re slowly learning about different ways of greeting people, you’re learning to distinguish polite language from informal language, you’re learning names of fruits and vegetables and drinks. And you can’t wait to dig a little deeper and have an entire conversation in that language!
  • You’ve eaten your way through various food courts and restaurants to try out as many local dishes as possible. By now you know what you like or don’t like and you’ve discovered local comfort food. For me, local comfort food has included Laksa and Kaya toast in Singapore, all kinds of potatoes and Palta Rellena in Peru, and Raita in India.

    handling culture shock

    Potatoes in Peru

  • You’ve found your favorite bakery, food court, the closest post office or yoga club and residents start recognizing you. You share brief chats and might even know each other’s names. It felt comforting when the two women at the baozi stand in the food court smiled when I walked in, and began telling me about their lives and asking me about mine.
  • Your regular route (to school, work or simply into town or any other place) is beginning to feel familiar and you’re ready to explore more.
  • Depending on where you’re traveling, you’ve already thrown up at least once and you’re slowly getting used to your stomach feeling off. Here’s a fun post about barfing on the road!