5 Ways to Embrace a New Culture

hever-castle-grounds

At one point or another, we’re all faced with a new situation where we must adapt.  This could be the result of moving to a new area, switching schools, or starting a new job.  Maybe even a combination of all the above.

Those who quickly adapt to and, better yet, embrace their new culture and surroundings, give themselves a better chance to thrive and fully appreciate their new experience.  On the other hand, those who refuse to accept change and stick with what they’re comfortable with will never get the most out of any situation.

Our longtime readers know that earlier this year a job transfer uprooted our family of five from the sprawling Texas suburbs and planted us smack dab in the rural English countryside.

To say it was a massive change would be an understatement.  So far, we’ve approached everything with an open mind and three and a half months in, it has been an invaluable experience.

Here are the top five things we’ve done to fully embrace the British culture.  Although the examples provided are specific to us, we think these tips are applicable in a wide range of situations.

1. Live in the community.  As a military family, we had the option to live on base, but chose to rent a house in one of the neighboring towns instead.  This has allowed us to experience everything firsthand from setting up utilities to interacting with neighbors.

2. Eat like a local.  This ties in directly with the first point.  Since we live off base, we generally shop at British grocery stores and now eat foods we probably would never have tried otherwise.  Honestly, we love shopping at our local Tesco.  The quality of the food seems head and shoulders above what is found in most US grocery stores like the commissary on base.

3. Get involved.  About six weeks ago, I joined the local rugby club.  Prior to this, I hadn’t played since college–over a decade ago!  Our team is about half American and half British.  It has been awesome getting to know the other guys, playing other club teams, and being a part of a sport with so much history in this country.  I’m convinced that I’ll look back at this single decision as one of my most memorable here in England.

4. Travel.  Speaking of history, it is amazing how much history is around every corner here.  Just a few weeks ago, we visited Dover Castle, a 12th century fortress on the sea.  While there, we toured a medieval castle and World War II era tunnels, and in the process got a history lesson from another country’s perspective.  It was extremely eye-opening.  And best of all, we’re just getting started with our travels.  There is so much to see!

5. Share.  Last week, we had our first Thanksgiving dinner outside of the US.  Instead of eating alone, Mrs. DTG had a brilliant idea to invite our neighbors, an English and Canadian couple, to have dinner with us.  By sharing some of our own culture with our new friends, we’re helping to build stronger bonds with one another.

Have you ever been thrown into a completely new situation?  If so, did you embrace the change or was it a rough transition?  Any other tips we may have missed?

8 thoughts on “5 Ways to Embrace a New Culture

  1. Mr. SSC says:

    I’ve never been put into that sort of situation, although my first overseas int’l travel was a boondoggle. I got bumped off my flight to Paris and was graciouslyy offered an overnight stay in lovely Atlanta instead. No thanks Delta, I’ve lived there, I’ve never been to Paris, lol. I finally convinced them if they could just get me across the Atlantic I’d take it.

    They stuck me on a plane that landed in Gatwick, and I caught a train to London, and spent a half day checking it out, before taking the train to Paris. I hadn’t planned on even going to England, but instead of getting grumpy, I embraced the chaos and bartered my way across the sea and got to see another country. Sure the train ticket thru the Chunnel was spendy, but it beat the crap out of hanging in Atlanta for a night. 🙂 Oh, and they never got my bag to me the whole trip, it was still an awesome trip, and why I don’t fly Delta, lol.

    The best experience I had when I visited France was a 3/4 day guided tour of the region by a lady that was a little girl during the Nazi occupation and WW2. The stories told from her perspective about her and her families lives during that time, the feeling when they were liberated, the trials of being under occupation, were just amazing. No matter what town we were in, she had some kind of family story to tell. It was one of the best cultural and human experiences I’ve had.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ditching the Grind says:

      What an awesome story about the guided tour in France! As Americans, I think we lose perspective about these huge world events because they usually take place somewhere else. I can’t even imagine what people lived through during WWII.

      Sounds like you had the right attitude about embracing the chaos–just get me the hell out of Atlanta and I’ll make the best of it! On the bright side, you did get a taste of London. I’m hoping we can head over to France sometime soon. I still can’t believe we’re just a short ferry or train ride away!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Graham @ Reverse The Crush says:

    I’ve been in new situations as far as new jobs and going to different secondary schools. I’ve always embraced the situation and have tried to adapt the best I can. The rugby team sounds fun. I’d like to do something similar with basketball. I also liked your get involved and share points because those definitely apply to a new job. Great tips for me as I head back to work on Monday. Thanks for the read!

    Like

    • Ditching the Grind says:

      Good luck with your job! I’m sure it’s exciting to go back after a year off. At least you’ll gain some new skills and start adding to your stash again.

      I always played sports when I was younger so getting back into rugby has been a blast… not to mention a humbling reminder how out of shape I am!

      Like

  3. Vicki@MakeSmarterDecisions says:

    I haven’t really been in any kind of new situations like this but I love that you joined rugby – how fun! That’s a great work out and a great way to make a circle of friends. Living in the community must make a big difference too and I bet your neighbors loved dinner! Offering those invites will likely bring other invites from them and other folks too!

    Like

    • Ditching the Grind says:

      Rugby is awesome… exhausting, but awesome! Sports have always been a great way for me to make friends.

      Even in the short time since Thanksgiving, we’ve already noticed a difference in our friendship with our neighbors. Before, we would just say hi occasionally. Now, you can tell the foundation has been set for a deeper friendship.

      Liked by 1 person

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