Tips for Immigrants on Getting (and Staying) Connected with Your Two Communities
Updated: May 6
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When you moved to your new country, you had visions of making your dreams come true. Whether you made the transition for work, for asylum, or for another reason, you left a family and community back home that you want to stay in touch with and support through whatever hardships — and successes — they experience. It’s also important to settle into your new environment. Today, It’s Ok Yaar shares some tips to help you stay connected with family back home while helping you to engage with your new community at the same time.
Volunteer in your new community
There are a lot of opportunities for you to take advantage of as an immigrant. Urban Institute notes that your new community will strive to help you seek assistance where you need it, and putting in some time as a volunteer may be a good way to get connected to some of those resources. It’s a good idea to have a good grasp of your new country’s language, so if English isn’t your native tongue you can take courses to help.
Volunteering at your new church and in underserved communities can also help you create relationships in these areas — and could open possibilities for you in the future. Volunteer work can show potential employers that you are a desirable candidate, for instance.
Find your home away from home
If you take the time to search, you will find communities of people in similar circumstances. You’re not alone. No matter where you’re from or what you do, you have an opportunity to learn more about your new country and other cultures by engaging with local immigrant communities. In fact, relationships made in these new environments can help you feel more at home and ease the integration process.
Using social networking apps like Facebook and GroupMe are popular methods of joining groups in the area. There are often locally-based communities on these apps, and interacting with folks can help you get accustomed to the communication styles of the people in your new home. Social networking sites are also a great way to stay connected with your family in your home country; Psychologies points out that even these online connections can be a comfort when handled properly, so it’s a good tool for maintaining a balance between your old life and your new one.
Improve your finances
Moving to a new country is an expensive decision, and immigrants often experience financial hardship. You, your family back home and your new community benefit when you are financially stable. Start off with a budget that takes into account any income and expenses you currently have, a savings plan, and your goals.
Some of your goals might include things like supporting your family with gifts and funds, seeing them at holidays, and maybe even starting a business of your own. And in fact, starting a business can be a great option for immigrants, especially if you already have experience in a professional service such as IT, construction, or business consulting. If you go the entrepreneurial route, you’ll need to keep excellent financial records and have a good credit score, which is a common measure that lenders often use to determine whether you’re a good fit for a business loan.
Alternatively, going to school for a bachelor’s or master’s degree can be a great way to improve your skill set and your earning potential. An online program gives students a chance to plan their studies around work and their personal lives, making an advanced degree more easily attainable.
Stay in touch with your loved ones
Many people move to a new country with the expectation that they will financially support loved ones in their homeland. Improving your financial standing can be challenging, especially when it includes the goal of sending money to family members in your home country, perhaps in the Philippines or China. That makes it all the more important to be wise with your funds. Research can make the difference.
As an example, if you’ve recently moved from Manila and you want to send a balikbayan box to your family, Parcel Monkey allows you to compare shipping rates for the best price. Similarly, if you’re sending actual money to your family, be sure to compare fees, amounts and speeds of money transfer services. And when the time comes to visit in person, you can compare travel packages through websites like Skyscanner.
The best of both worlds
Whatever you achieve, it’s a laudable goal to put the work in to feel more connected to your family back home and the family you’re forming in your new country. As an immigrant living away from your home country, you have the opportunity to make new connections and strengthen old ones. With the right plan, the dream you’re building can come true.