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How to integrate into a new country? Here’s 5 ways!

It’s been years since I first stepped in the Netherlands and although it’s not the first time for me to live outside the Philippines, it is the first time that I moved to a non English speaking country and stayed there on a more permanent basis. So how did I integrate myself into the Dutch culture? Here’s 5 ways that could be very helpful and honestly… very effective (at least for me!).

Watch local tv shows

In the beginning of my stay, I was just staying at home while my Dutch husband was at work. So the television was always on. Thankfully, a lot of English tv programs here in the Netherlands are closed captioned in Dutch. But one good way of learning the local language is to watch local tv shows. Hearing people talk together and seeing their body language on screen is one good way of learning. Watching local news also helps you with your listening skills because news is usually delivered more clearly at a slower pace than regular conversation. Jeugdjournaal (Youth Journal) is youth news that uses simpler language and more simpler topics that one can easily follow. Het klokhuis (The Clockhouse) is one of my favorite kids tv that’s informative with interesting topics about the world.

Read local newspapers or entertainment magazine

Read local newspapers or entertainment magazines. It may not be that easy or enticing to read in a language you’re not very good at (yet!) but there are simple-to-read newspapers and some are free and available to read in buses and public transport. This could help you keep up to date with the current news or entertainment. De Metro is free and De Telegraaf is one of my favorites to read.

dutch newspapers

Familiarize with the neighbourhood

Morning walks, grocery shopping or just hanging out in the park is one great way for me to observe and listen to people talking. Picking up some conversations here and there or actually participating in a conversation even if it means to ask which shelf you can find the flour or give directions to the neighbourhood playground are great ways to practice initiating a conversation.

Make friends with your neighbours

The Dutch people are generally friendly. And usually your neighbours are curious about you as much as you are curious about them. After all, you will be living in the same neighbourhood, walking on the same street and probably picking up each other’s posts and parcels for each other at some point. A simple hello and a bit of ‘kletsen’ (chat) outside or by the parking lot is a great way for you to boost up that confidence of holding a conversation. And your neighbour would probably be able to help you and pace themselves with what they say and how they say it to accommodate you.

Invite locals friends over

If you love entertaining guests, try inviting some local friends over. The premise is that you’ve established a good rapport with them already so having them over for a more casual but more in depth conversation makes you more integrated in the society. Sharing thoughts and opinions or views about the news, or current events within your neighbourhood or around the world in general, gives you a better sense of a new belonging. And who knows? Your guests might even share food that you’ve never tried before! That’s always a plus!

These 5 tips have always helped me throughout these years. I hope it’ll help you too! And honestly, living here in the Netherlands itself made it easier for me to be integrated faster. The people are friendly and there are a lot of means for you to feel that you belong. I've actually made a video, "10 reasons why I love living in The Netherlands" and here's a short clip below. For the full video, please click here to see it on your YouTube channel. 

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