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?