Explore your new community starting at your spatial center (your new home), then expand out from there in concentric circles on a series of short walking trips over a week or two.
· What useful places are in your immediate vicinity: shops, food markets, government services, playgrounds, public transportation terminals, medical facilities, and so forth.
· Who inhabits nearby locations: Poor, middle class, rich? Natives, immigrants, other expatriates? Are they friendly? Might any be helpful to you? Do you think you could approach them and strike up a conversation?
· What differences are there from ways of life you became accustomed to back home? For example, how are local people’s personal and family needs met? How do their living arrangements differ from yours back home? How do they use space and time?
Then explore further afield in your neighborhood, and even in other neighborhoods nearby.
· Locate restaurants, places of entertainment, and other places where locals gather.
· Locate additional options for transportation, medical attention, shopping, etc.
· Locate government offices — post office, police station, schools – and businesses and organizations that might be of interest to you.
Talk to people. Don't be afraid to ask questions; most people actually are eager to tell newcomers about their locality and culture. Over several weeks, try to deliberately strike up conversations; a good ploy is to ask directions (even if you already know the way!).
If your children are of a certain age, you can turn your explorations into a little game. For example, the first family member to find something, or to correctly pronounce a local word, or to strike up an acquaintance with a shopkeeper, or whatever, wins a small prize.
Cornelius N. Grove, Grovewell LLC
Adapted in part from L. Robert Kohls