People move abroad for plenty of different reasons, whether it’s work, pleasure or following your heart.
Of course this could mean moving to be with someone that you met in a different country, or it could be that you are skipping town after a recent break up. Even if things aren’t quite so dramatic, if you’re moving without a significant other you are likely to be on the lookout for potential new partners at some point.
You may have heard any number of urban myths about different cultures and the way they deal with love. Some people have a thing for Brazilians, stereotyped by their taste for music and dancing, while others prefer the allegedly calmer northern Europeans like Swedes and Danes. Obviously these are only stereotypes, but it must be said that many people hold preconceptions about what they might find when they move abroad.
Before I moved to France I thought that my English charm would work a treat with the legions of Brigitte Bardot lookalikes that were bound to be swarming the streets of Paris. It turns out that while there are plenty of pretty girls, they are generally less than impressed with the Brits and our sense of humour.
Rather than being a question of not finding my jokes funny, it was more a question of failing to recognize that there was any humorous intent on my part. Instead of the laughs I was expecting, it was more likely that I would be scowled at before being presented with the back of someone’s head.
Perplexed, I sought the counsel of my best new French confidant, who could hardly contain his laughter. The diagnosis was simple: French people don’t understand sarcasm. As a product of an island nation famed for its sardonic wit, this came as a crushing blow.
The choice was stark: stay true to my humorous principles, or adapt in the hope of making some headway with the female population. The choice was obvious. Before long I was swallowing my sarcastic comments in favour of more crowd friendly jokes. I won’t pretend that it didn’t hurt slightly, but it paid dividends.
One of the best things about living abroad is learning about different cultures and how you can fit into them, or not as the case may be. This may all sound very frivolous, but the lessons that can be learnt are important.
Chasing girls is one thing, but this kind of adaptation is important in every aspect of your new life abroad. After all some cultural norms are harder to adapt to than trying to chat someone up. If you find that you can’t get along with local customs, you might be better off looking for somewhere different to live.
This is especially important if you want to settle for a long time. Most humans are fairly resilient, and will put up with some difficulties if their main priorities in life are being satisfied. However once this balance swings into the negative, it’s time to question whether or not you should stay.
To return to my earlier example, it’s unlikely that your need to be sarcastic would preclude you from living in a certain country. It might mean you are less successful with the ladies, but if you have a decent job and a nice life you might be prepared to deal with it.
However if cultural differences mean that making friends is tough and your work environment is stressful, it might be time for a change. After all if you have left home in search of adventure, success or love, you want your new life to be better than the old one that you left behind.
The trick is to recognize how many sacrifices you are prepared to make in order to get what you want. Much like entering into a romantic relationship, you have to be ready to sacrifice certain things without losing a sense of your own identity. If your new country demands too much of you without giving anything back, pack your bag and get out of town. However if you can crack the French humour, get a decent job and a cosy apartment, there is no reason why you shouldn’t live it in up in Paris for a while.
Setting up in a new city is supposed to be fun, not a chore. Always make sure that you are making intelligent choices when it comes to picking a place to live.