How to Move to a Foreign Country and Acclimatize in Five Easy Steps

We moved to an unfamiliar place. We didn’t know the people, we didn’t know the streets or the landscape. In less than three weeks, we feel totally acclimatized and at home. Now I’m going to tell you how you can too!

1 — Drink. Lots

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Within the first week, you’re going to want to pretty much be a complete write-off. Aside from being the first thing you’ll want to do when you hit the beach, there is a psychology to it. Drunks move around from spot to spot more frequently and are far more talkative. It’s like hiring a more inquisitive, motivated version of yourself. All you have to pay them is liquor while you sit back and enjoy your new surroundings.

If you’re one of those ranting, slurring, fall out of your chair drunks: skip the move all together and stay where you belong. You’re going to get eaten alive.

Your new drunk employee will attempt to meet more bartenders and local patrons of the holes you’re going to crawl into. BFFT. Best Friends For Tonight! After relaxing for a week (or two, depending on your dedication to research) while your other-self does all the work is when the magic of the human mind starts to happen.

When you come to, you will know the lay of the land and have the beginnings of a small circle of friends. It will feel almost as though you have lived here in another life… because you have. Your drunk life last week. After your first cloudy walk around town, your brain will start filling in all the pieces, and your path to dropping, “I’m a local” to anyone and everyone that will listen has now begun.

This is the most crucial step of all: Taper the binging off immediately if you plan to actually survive.

2 — Walk it out

Don’t take taxis. We all know what passenger syndrome is. As a passenger, you rarely remember directions to your best friend’s house, let alone explaining the way home to a cabbie through a whisky-thick language barrier. Any distance a taxi can take you is too far, anyhow. Learn your location in a gradually growing radius. First get to know where you’ll be the most.

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Do they have rickshaws where you’re moving? Even better. Now you’re not physically doing anything, but you’re travelling slow enough to take in the streets. You’re also helping the lowest end of the local economy. Oh the places you’ll go! (Or won’t go, see below.)

3 — Don't Go to Gringo Joints

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You didn’t move to another country to hang out with more alcoholic Canadians, Americans, or whatever. Hit up the local spots.

“But how will I know if it’s a local spot?” you ask.

It doesn’t take math or science to know that everyone is staring at you and your plaid board shorts as you walk into a bar. I told you not to buy plaid shorts. What’s better, if it feels like they’re all making fun of you, it’s not just a hunch, they are. Suck it up. You’re pale as all hell, wearing a funny hat, Oakleys and you ordered a Piña Colada.

4 — Get Dark, Quickly

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There’s not much you can do to expedite this other than by spending real time in the sun. Avoid pre-game tanning beds. A tan should always be earned, never purchased. If you’re getting as drunk as I’ve recommended, chances are you’ll pass out once or twice in the sun and speed things up a bit.

Don’t go lobster. “Burns peel, tans are for real, bro,” said someone in Cancun/Miami/The Okanagan.

Staying crisp is going to do one of three important things for you:

  1. Mixed with just the right amount of your perfect grasp of the local language it can bring down the cost of taxi rides.
  2. Mixed with a mean glare and tattoos from neck to toe, it will help back the merchants off from bothering you with their zipline tours and shoddy wares.
  3. Probably nothing, but you’ll look good! Good as hell.

5 — I’m a Local

Don’t ever use this. You’re not. However, now you’re a bit closer to feeling like you belong and can maybe even slap a few high-fives to your new besties (read: someone you’re pretty sure you met last week) on your way around town.