a writing by Elizabeth Padillo Olesen

1. Consider the host country as a your new homeland, a God-given gift, a door to new possibilities.

Whether one comes to another country as a refugee or an immigrant, it is important to keep an attitude that the new country is a God given gift, a new door to new possibilities. And I think, it means a lot because this conviction is a step towards positive acceptance to all which may seem difficult.

2. Don’t forget the culture and tradition from your own country of origin. They are part of you and will ever be. But don’t forget to identify delightful surprises in your new host country and look at them to support the positive way of looking at this new homeland as God’s gift or blessing.

As a foreigner in a new country, one can have the tendency to compare the host country with one’s own country of origin. One has the tendency to romanticize the past and has the tendency to look at the host country with negative and critical eyes, especially when one misses his/her homeland, and is confronted with many new ways of doing things.

As a foreigner, it is healthy to remember our country of origin and to keep in mind the good things in our culture and traditions but it helps to be open to the things which are very much positive in the new country, enabling us to see that such a new country is indeed a God-given gift. We need to affirm the delightful surprises we experience in the host country.

By delightful surprises, I mean the societal services or systems, which possibly show the face of freedom, justice and democracy.

3. Be part of the community. You have the right to be alone but be actively involved in the community where you are.

Whether it is in the community of your colleagues where you work, the religious or church community where you worship, or an organization for voluntary service, exercise your active role. Don’t be passive. Be an active foreigner, active to join in some activities being offered.

Out of this group with purpose or objectives you share for the good of the society, you have found an extended family because here in the circle of strangers, it is possible to find those who mysteriously can be great friends in the future. Here you discover that you belong and you cease to be a stranger. Here you can share your talents and that you realize that you are among the citizens of the land with your valued contributions.

4. Loneliness is real. Depression comes to attack you once in a while, although you can smile and laugh. There comes a time when you feel lonely and depressed. Don’t forget to engage in creative activities. To engage in something creative leads into something new and something joyful. To be able to create something brings out your inner joy.

Whether it is writing, speaking, painting, gardening, cooking, riding or whatever, search your heart, which creative task your hands love to do. And this takes you out from boredom to the new world of surprises and joy to be able to create something, which if shared with others, can gladden their hearts.

Been asked to share thoughts on the subject, Mastering Life in a New Country, for the Inter-cultural conference. Here I am just sharing some of the short points.

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